Nursing leaders from across the UK have marked International Nurses’ Day by publicly thanking those in the profession for their hard work and dedication and vowed to ensure those who lost their lives during the coronavirus pandemic “will never be forgotten”.
In a landmark occasion, this year’s nurses’ day falls on what would have been Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday, inspiring the World Health Organization (WHO) to designate 2020 as International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
“Without the self-less commitment of our nurses, so many people may not have survived Covid-19”
Though grand celebrations may not be carried out in the way that was first hoped, leaders from across the profession have expressed their gratitude to their nursing colleagues and thanked them for their response in the coronavirus crisis across all sectors.
Chief nursing officer for Scotland, Professor Fiona McQueen, said the outbreak of Covid-19 had “by far been the most demanding time” since she started in post in 2014, but also gave an opportunity to celebrate the skills, ability and knowledge of nurses.
“It gives us a real opportunity to celebrate the fantastic work nurses and midwives do for the people of Scotland on a daily basis, and to thank you all for your hard work and dedication at this unprecedented time,” added Professor McQueen.
“Without the self-less commitment of our nurses and midwives, so many people may not have survived Covid-19.”
Professor McQueen also paid tribute to those in the profession who had lost their lives during the crisis.
“I want to take this opportunity to remember all our nurses and midwives who have sadly passed away supporting the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
“Their dedication to caring, comforting and treating others even under these extremely challenging and dangerous times, will never be forgotten.”
Also thanking her profession, chief nursing officer for Northern Ireland, Professor Charlotte McArdle, said: “I have always been proud to be a nurse, and this has become even more pronounced in the midst of this crisis.
“I urge nurses to do all that they can to look after themselves and each other”
“Our nurses have stepped forward to take on new roles or move into different settings, they have enabled changes to take place in our health service in a matter of days or weeks that would ordinarily have taken months or even years. They have risen to every challenge put in front of them.”
She highlighted that nurses had been with patients “every step of the way” from “nursing them to recovery or being at their side during their final moments and supporting loved ones to say goodbye”.
“I know that families will always remember the nurses that helped them through the most difficult of times,” added Professor McArdle.
She also took the opportunity to urge nurses to look after themselves and each other.
“This pandemic will take its toll on all of us, but I urge nurses to do all that they can to look after themselves and each other,” she said.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all my colleagues in health and social care, and in the independent sector. Happy International Nurses’ Day 2020.”
Speaking in an online video to mark occasion, Professor Jean White, chief nursing officer for Wales, said she was very grateful and thankful for all that nurses do.
She reiterated that this year marked the 200th anniversary since the birth of Florence Nightingale and described her as a “remarkable pioneering individual who set our principles on public health nursing and recognised the importance of infection prevention and control”.
“Now through this being an important anniversary and in recognition of what nurses do to promote the health and wellbeing of the world’s population – who make up after all 50% of the health workforce – this year has been recognised as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” added Professor White.
She went on to note that the coronavirus crisis had “swept across the world” and “tested us all”.
“It has brought with it illness, death and destruction to our lives,” said Professor White.
“I would like to extend my personal gratitude to all the nurses, students and health staff who have stepped forward at this time to make sure we have the health and care services that we need.”
The Welsh CNO also highlighted the important work of nurses unrelated to Covid-19.
“Outside of Covid-19, nurses are there throughout the age spectrum providing care from birth to death,” she said.
“We are working in extraordinary times and you are doing an extraordinary job”
“We recognise their importance in all of our health and care services.
“I say to you, for all the work you do throughout the year, I am very grateful and thank you all very much for everything you’re doing.”
Meanwhile, Dr Crystal Oldman, chief executive of influential community nursing charity the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), also wished those in the profession a happy International Nurses’ Day.
“We are working in extraordinary times and you are doing an extraordinary job, to protect the health of people, families and communities everywhere,” said Dr Oldman.
Florence Nightingale was one of the founders of the QNI and “believed passionately in the value of district nursing and the unique opportunities of nursing in the home”, she added.
“Today, all nurses working in the community are demonstrating that the need for excellent community nursing is as great as ever and its opportunities are only growing, as we adapt to today’s challenges,” said Dr Oldman.
“Thank you for everything you are doing as nurses and the QNI is here to support you as we face these challenges together, today and in the future.”