The day also marks on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who founded modern nursing and pioneered infection control and 2020 has been made International Year of the Nurse to mark the bicentenary of her birth.
Siobhan Heafield, chief nurse for the midlands, has joined other senior nursing leaders in urging people to shine a light from their window at 8.30pm tonight to mark the day and show their appreciation for all that nurses are doing to save and rebuild the lives of patients with coronavirus.
Siobhan said: “Thank you to the nurses, midwifes and heath visitors who work hard for the patients across our region each and every day.
"Nightingale is most often remembered as ‘the lady with the lamp’ and for her role during the Crimean War.
“In 2020, we find ourselves in the midst of a war against a virus that has caused a global pandemic and will have a lasting influence on nursing."There are many similarities to reflect on, not least the setting up at great speed of Nightingale hospitals across the country to provide additional capacity and support to NHS hospitals."
Thousands of former nurses have returned to help the NHS with the greatest health emergency in its history and thousands more students have done their bit in the battle against Covid-19 through choosing to take up extended clinical placements.
One of those returning to the profession is award-winning comedian and performance poet Rob Gee, who has decided to return to psychiatric nursing during the coronavirus outbreak.
As a performer, Rob has clocked up more than 3,000 shows and has won awards at several comedy festivals, including Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Saskatoon in Canada.
But he has now put comedy on hold and returned to Leicestershire Partnership Trust where he is supporting the eating disorders service.
He said: “I could not just sit here whilst a crisis is going on.
“I have the skills and registration to get back into work and I wanted to help.
“Being back on the wards after such a long break feels a bit like being a newly qualified nurse again.
“There’s been a great deal to update myself on, but the support and mentorship from colleagues has been second to none. I couldn’t have picked a finer team of people to be working with.”
Prof Greta Westwood, chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundatio,n said: “Nurses have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing expert care and support to patients and their families during these uncertain times.
“Florence Nightingale, herself a trailblazer during her career, would have been proud at the way nurses have followed in her footsteps as pioneers and leaders in the fight against the pandemic.
“They are truly her legacy today.”
Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, chief executive and registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), added: “International Nurses Day is more important than ever as we recognise the enormous contribution existing and former professionals are making in caring for people through some of the most challenging moments of their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“They are the beating heart of our health and social care system, trusted and appreciated by the public and deserving of our admiration and respect.
“I am so grateful and proud of our nurses, nursing associates and their colleagues.
“I hope this special day encourages even more nurses to join or return to what is a wonderful and rewarding career.”
Julie Pearce, Marie Curie chief nurse and executive director of quality and caring services, commented: “Caring for someone during their final weeks and days of life is both a privilege and a challenge.
“Right now our frontline nurses and other professionals are committed to supporting the NHS through this national crisis, caring for patients with coronavirus and other illnesses in our hospices, in homes and care homes across our four nations.
“Nurses have never had a more difficult time providing care, and we’ve seen them rise to the challenge, from moving into frontline roles, helping families to keep their loved one safe and addressing the understandable anxieties that are being felt at this time.
“International Nurses Day is a special time for us all to come together to celebrate and thank every nurse for their courage and commitment.”
Nursing has changed dramatically since Florence Nightingale founded the first nursing school in London – nurses are not only on hospital wards, they are out in the community, care homes, academia, running hospitals and developing policy.
The modern nursing challenge is to deliver consistent and improving high quality care and they are essential to meet the challenge of improving care, reducing inequalities and using health and care resources wisely.
Nurses have never been more needed.
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