International Nurses Day 2020

Today (Tuesday 12th of May) is International Nurses Day (IND). IND is observed around the world (the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth) to mark the contributions that nurses make to society. It's a day that is worthy to be marked every year. This year is particularly poignant, due to the great sacrifices of those nurses and medical colleagues who have followed in the footsteps 'The Lady with the Lamp' and are on the front line of the global battle with Coronavirus (COVID-19).

We, at the UCO, would like to say thank you to everyone who works in this profession, including our members of staff and students who are nurses working in a particularly challenging time.

Julie Greenwood is a current student at the UCO. She has been working at the London NHS Nightingale hospital, which was built to provide the best possible focused care for patients requiring intensive care for COVID-19.

Recently, Julie shared her experiences of her time at the NHS Nightingale with her tutors and colleagues during a recent online tutorial and told a very moving tale of great teamwork and courage.

Julie is an experienced medical professional and has held Florence's Lamp with a nursing qualification since 1991. She has been involved in a number of medical services and been studying osteopathy at the UCO since 2016 and she says she has 'loved it'!

When the COVID-19 virus began spreading across Britain the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) put out a call for all registered non-patient facing nurses to contact them for redeployment on the front line. Julie, still a registered nurse, answered the call and after 2 weeks of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) training, she was deployed to The NHS Nightingale London, close to where she lives.

The Nightingale was described as an intensive working environment, with various teams evolving from the situation. One such team was the Proning Team, whose main responsibility was the lying of ventilated patients on their fronts to improve oxygenation. This is a new development in intensive care based on the physiological observations of COVID. Julie explained that there is still so much to learn about COVID-19 (such as the impact the disease has on the kidneys) making effective treatment difficult.

One of Julie’s responsibilities was to ensure that the families of patients were able to pass on messages to their loved ones. These messages were always delivered in a kind and loving way and Julie really did feel that they were always heard. The patients had knitted love hearts that they held in their hands with the ‘paired’ heart, given to the loved ones at home.

There were osteopaths, physiotherapists, flight attendants, shop workers (to name a few) all of whom had volunteered to help at the Nightingale. Their dedication was second to none, especially as some of them had never looked after unwell patients in the past. There were stories about some of the amazing things that the general public are doing to help those working at the Nightingale. Builders bringing in unused masks from their construction sites, donations of food from neighbours and companies, including walking wellies from Hunter.

Thank you, Julie, (and to all our nurses) for your dedication during this especially difficult time. We will all be clapping for you on Thursday, as always.


With thanks to Julie Greenwood for sharing her story.

Nightingale Print by Madeleine Floyd, Photography by Julie Greenwood

Text - Jeremy Jones-Bateman, Julie Greenwood and Stuart Smith

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