Nursing leaders are asking the public to ‘shine a light’ to mark International Nurses Day tomorrow (May 12) and recognise the extraordinary work that staff are doing in the fight against coronavirus.
The day also marks on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who founded modern nursing and pioneered infection control. She is also famous for her lamp.
2020 has been made International Year of the Nurse to mark the bicentenary of Florence’s birth.
Ruth May, England’s top nurse, has joined other senior nursing leaders in urging people to shine a light from their window at 8:30pm on Tuesday to mark the day and show their appreciation for all that nurses are doing to save and rebuild the lives of patients with coronavirus.
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.
Among the nursing army is newly qualified QEQM intensive care nurse Kat Lamb. Kat, 23, from Palm Bay recently launched an appeal for help to give patients and their loved ones matching fabric hearts to help them feel connected.
Kat was inundated with offers and has now also been able to deliver matching hearts to Pilgrims Hospices.
Staff also include the dedicated team at Sandwich Bay ward who provide frontline care for Covid patients.
Penny Searle, who runs the ward at the hospital in Margate, said gifts and gestures from businesses and individuals were keeping staff morale up during the outbreak. And she praised her nursing team for ‘stepping up’ to care for some of the sickest patients with COVID-19.
And of those returning to nursing is former critical care nurse consultant Debbie Higgs. She retired from clinical work a year ago, and is now working as a clinical lead on the Sunrise new electronic health record project across East Kent Hospitals.
But she volunteered to help out her old team and work in QEQM;s critical care unit.
Mum-of-three Aimee O’Rourke also dedicated herself to caring for patients at QEQM. She sadly lost her life to coronavirus in the hospital’s Critical Care Unit on April 2. The 39-year-old leaves behind daughters, Megan, Mollie and Maddie.
Aimee joined the Acute Medical Unit as a newly qualified nurse in 2017 and was known to colleagues as “a kind and caring nurse who had a really special relationship with her patients and colleagues.”
To mark International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary, an image of her and a message of thanks will be projected on to St Thomas’s Hospital, from the Houses of Parliament.
It will also be projected onto the British Embassy in Rome and the Italian Federation of Nurses between 9pm – 11pm.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “International Day of the Nurse is particularly special this year not just because we mark the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, but because of the extraordinary work all those who have followed in her footsteps are doing in the fight against coronavirus.
“I want to thank each and every one of our incredible nurses who are on the frontline in the battle against the greatest health emergency in NHS history. Their professionalism and skills are helping to save and rebuild countless lives.
“It is a challenging but hugely rewarding career and I would urge anyone inspired by their example to sign up to join us and become a nurse.
“I know how much the public’s support has buoyed my colleagues during this testing time. It would mean a great deal if people once again showed their gratitude by shining a light for nurses this Tuesday.”
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.
Nurses have never been more needed. If you’re interested in joining our team, find out more https://www.