Public called up to help the NHS ‘SHINE A LIGHT’ for our nurses

Nursing leaders up and down the country are asking the public to ‘shine a light’ to mark International Nurses Day on Tuesday (12th May) and recognise the extraordinary work that their colleagues are doing in the fight against coronavirus.

The day also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who founded modern nursing and pioneered infection control, but is also famous for her lamp.

This year, International Year of the Nurse marks the bicentenary of Florence’s birth.

Catherine Morgan, chief nurse for the East of England, 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.

To mark International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary, landmarks across the East of England will be ‘lighting up blue’ as a show of solidarity for these NHS ‘angels’, including Ipswich and Colchester Hospitals, the Bury Cathedral and Clacton Pier in Suffolk; Westminster College and the Møller Institute in Cambridge; and the National Trust’s Blickling Hall in Norfolk amongst others.

Catherine Morgan, chief nurse for the East of England, said: “Throughout my career in the NHS I have had the privilege to work alongside so many committed, talented and inspirational nurses. They have touched the lives of so many people and their expertise, professionalism and compassion has made such a significant contribution during the greatest healthcare crisis in a generation.

“It is therefore my great honour to help shine a light on these incredible colleagues and to say thank you; not just for International Day of the Nurse but for every day; 24/7 hours, 365 days a year.”

Patrick Nyarumbu, director of nursing leadership and quality for the East of England, said: “International Day of the Nurse is a great opportunity for us to celebrate the nursing and midwifery professions – something perhaps more important now than ever.

“It fills me with great pride to see the incredible lengths that our nurses have gone to throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They put themselves in harm’s way every single day to care for the people in our communities, without want for recognition or reward.

“Many of us, throughout our lives, have had a very real connection with nurses and I’m sure a number of people will want to be able to do something to show our gratitude and support.

“International Nurses Day gives us this opportunity to inspire future generations and celebrate the diversity of our professional careers and workforce.”

Bonnie Sparkes is a safeguarding clinical nurse specialist at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and 2019 Nursing Times Awards Nurse of the Year. She said: ““When you think about a nurse universally, the profile is caring, they are trustworthy, and they are seen as a confidante and as safety net.

“For people that aren’t born here in this country, for victims that are trafficked here from other countries, the moment they see a nurse in uniform they recognise what a nurse is, and you can almost see the relaxation in their face.

Ms Sparkes said that she became a nurse 20 years ago because she wanted to “make a difference” and she feels that by doing this work she is “definitely making a change”.

“It’s such an emotional high for me to get something really positive by doing something really ‘out there’, and that’s the reason I became a nurse- to help people,” she explained.

Hannah Gardner is an admiral nurse at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, providing specialist care for people with dementia and their families. She said: “I have been an Admiral Nurse for over two years at East and North Hertfordshire Trust and enjoy every day. Dementia is very close to my heart as my mother, who was also a nurse at the Trust, died aged 60 from early onset Alzheimer’s. People living with dementia can become more confused due to pain, infection or even change of environments and it is important to make sure their unmet needs are addressed.”

Morranna Grant is a specialist gynaecology nurse at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. She said: “I’ve always aimed to make a positive difference in the lives of patients and to ensure that they are supported, reassured and receive high-quality care.

“The women I see are often vulnerable, scared and confused but, when treated with compassion and empathy, even the most frightening experiences can be that much more bearable.

“Becoming a specialist nurse requires hard work and dedication but the fulfilment you experience is well worth it, and the lives you can touch is priceless.”

Professor Greta Westwood, CEO of Florence Nightingale Foundation 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.”

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. If you’re interested in joining our team, find out more: