Dear supporters and friends,

I would like to send all nurses and midwives a special thank you from the Florence Nightingale Foundation. A thank you for all you do, every day. How proud I am right now to be a nurse. The nursing and midwifery professions are really playing their part in the fight against COVID-19 in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. You are all incredible.

On Friday the NHS Nightingale Hospital London was opened. From start to finish a hospital was built in just 9 days and is now ready to receive its first patients. An incredible feat. Such leadership and dedication to make sure London is equipped to safely care for the influx of COVID-19 patients.

Florence Nightingale was mentioned by both HRH Prince Charles and Ruth May in their speeches at the opening ceremony. We are reminded of Florence’s legacy and the leadership challenges she faced in her mission to keep our nation’s soldiers safe from the spread of infection. More than 160 years later the importance of hand hygiene is still the most important thing we can all do to beat COVID-19. Wash your hands and stay at home is now the message to save lives, and of course to save the lives of nurses and midwives.

Florence would have recognised the passion and leadership of our UK CNOs leading 1000’s of nurses and midwives to manage in this war against COVID-19.  The response and now unfortunately the ultimate sacrifice that nurses and midwives in the UK and globally are making is both humbling and inspiring.

We and many others have postponed our planned celebrations for Florence’s bicentenary but I know when we can, we will celebrate. Celebrations will be tinged with sadness at the loss of life COVID-19 has created. We will remember those who gave their lives whilst caring for their patients.

I too have joined the NHS workforce to provide leadership support to frontline nurses and midwives in my local hospital, Portsmouth. I want to support our professions, to do my duty, I wear the same uniform. Leadership support is the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

Please stay well and safe.

Professor Greta Westwood PhD RN

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