People are being encouraged to shine a light from their windows in recognition of the role of nurses in the coronavirus fight, which has been described as the ‘greatest health emergency in NHS history’.
The symbolic gesture this week will be a nod to the lamp which Florence Nightingale – a founder of modern nursing – was known to carry.
Tuesday marks both International Nurses Day and the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth.
The famous nurse’s image and a message of thanks will be projected from Parliament on to her place of work, St Thomas’s Hospital, while similar projections will happen at the British Embassy in Rome and the Italian Federation of Nurses.
Thousands of former nurses have come out of retirement to help the health service deal with the coronavirus outbreak and thousands of students are also helping by working in extended clinical placements.
ngland’s chief nursing officer Ruth May said public support shown so far has ‘buoyed’ colleagues during what she said is a testing time, and she urged people to once again show their gratitude by shining a light from their homes at 8.30pm on Tuesday.
She 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.’
Professor Greta Westwood, CEO of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, said: ‘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.’
The year 2020 has been made International Year of the Nurse to mark the bicentenary of Nightingale’s birth.