Every year on 12 May we celebrate International Nurses day on Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Perhaps this year her legacy is more relevant than ever. She is known by many as the ‘lady with the lamp’. This comes from her time in the Crimean war, when she would keep watch over soldiers who had been injured in the war. She erected in Scutari a ‘pop -up’ hospital to care for them. So it is very apt for our seven ‘pop -up’ hospitals to be named after her. She also had difficulty in obtaining supplies of the essentials she needed. For her it was bed linen, bandages and food. For us it is testing equipment and PPE.

Florence Nightingale used an ‘evidence-based’ approach to her work. She gathered statistics to help her campaign for improvements in the care of wounded soldiers. With this approach she could show that more were dying from disease rather than battle wounds. She became the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society in 1858. She founded the first School of Nursing in 1860 at St Thomas’ Hospital, London and contributed greatly to the professionalism of nursing.

David Green is Director of the Florence Nightingale Museum. He commented ‘Today the public are hugely sympathetic to the plight of nurses. When everyone joins in the clap for carers, I’m sure Nightingale would be having a wry smile at how far things have come’.

You can find out much more about Florence Nightingale at the online museum.

Compiled with information taken from Royal College of Nursing Bulletin, May 2020, written by Rachel Healy