A symbolic gesture brings us together
The 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth this week comes at a poignant moment for the NHS
The clap for carers and key workers every Thursday at 8pm has become a very special occasion across the country.
It allows us to come together, to step out of enforced quarantine for a moment and – as well as showing our huge respect and gratitude for the work of the NHS and others who are keeping us safe – to connect at a safe social distance with our neighbours. It reminds us that, while the four walls of home can feel suffocating after so long, we are all in this together, with a common purpose.
We will come through this, and we will emerge with stronger communities as a result.
There will always be cynics who will dismiss such symbolic gestures, especially as the Westminster Government faces mounting criticism over the way it has handled aspects of this crisis.
But demanding answers over the PPE scandal and questioning why certain measures were not taken earlier does not mean we cannot also show solidarity with those on the frontline.
This week people are being encouraged to shine a light from their windows in recognition of the role of nurses in what has been described as the “greatest health emergency in NHS history”.
It will be a nod to the lamp that Florence Nightingale was known to carry as tomorrow is both International Nurses Day and poignantly the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth.
Today, thousands of former nurses and doctors have come out of retirement to help the NHS across the UK.
They are going above and beyond on a daily basis; many face being separated from their families and are often putting their own health at risk simply to care for others.
Continuing to show our appreciation even in a small way by joining the weekly clap or shining a light from our windows is something we can all do.
And it is for government to fulfil its obligation to ensure our healthcare professionals in hospitals, care homes and the community can work in as safe an environment as possible, and that all have access to PPE and efficient testing. That is the very least we owe them.
As Professor Greta Westwood, CEO of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, says today: “Florence Nightingale, herself a trailblazer during her career, would have been proud at the way nurses have followed in her footsteps.
“They are truly her legacy today.”