Today we celebrate our nurses on International Nurses Day 2020

12 May 2020

Today is International Nurses Day (IND). On the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth, our Director of Nursing Chris Caldwell reflects on this momentous occasion.

Nurses light


This year it is a particularly poignant day for a number of reasons. You probably all know that the 12 May was chosen by the WHO to celebrate nursing across the globe – Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Today it is 200 years since Nightingale – the “lady with the lamp” – was born. It was intended to be the pinnacle of celebrations for 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife with all manner of exciting plans in train to celebrate and raise the profile of the role that millions of nurses and midwives play across the world in caring for those who are sick and perhaps, more importantly, promoting physical and mental health and wellbeing.

As nurses at the Tavistock and Portman, we were very excited about IND2020 and had our own plans in place - an international celebration of nursing in our own centenary birthday year and the year when nursing has reached its quarter-century anniversary in the Trust.

Then came the coronavirus global pandemic and everything changed. We certainly now have no need to raise the profile of nurses and prove the worth of our profession - the virus has done that for us in technicolour (or perhaps PPE!) across the globe.

But we still want to use today to celebrate each and every nurse – but especially our own amazingly talented, adaptable and resilient nurses – whose multitude of skills and experience in roles across the Trust now contribute significantly to the work of the Trust nationally and locally, in clinical practice, education, research, leadership and consultation. I am incredibly proud of each one of our nurses and it is a privilege to lead such a wonderfully supportive, joyous and creative team which is growing from strength to strength.

Tonight across the country at 8.30 pm, the public are being encouraged to “shine a light” in a window at home to mark International Nurses Day. Please shine your light tonight and say thank you to the nurses you know, have worked with or have been in their care. 

After more than 30 years in nursing, I can truly say that I still love being a nurse – it is a remarkably varied and rewarding profession, constantly adapting to the changing needs of societies. As Florence, herself wrote:

Nursing is a progressive art such that to stand still is to go backwards.” (Florence Nightingale, 1868)

See below for our very special IND2020 Tavistock Nurses’ film. 


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