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Welcoming in the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife

2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, it’s time to celebrate our profession

There is a huge sense of excitement around the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, designated by the World Health Organisation in this, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. This year, we will be working with Queen’s Nurses, employers, educators, other charities and government on a programme of activities, and more details will soon be available on our website and via social media.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) owes its creation to the vision of Florence Nightingale and the philanthropist William Rathbone – the two of them worked together to produce a plan to organise district nursing on a national basis and the nurses trained by the QNI became the first Queen’s Nurses. Nightingale believed that treating people in the community, rather than hospital, was nearly always the preferred option. For her, hospital was the last resort. Yet today the focus of the media and politicians remains firmly on hospital nursing and hospital care and the Prime Minister has announced another round of hospital building. New hospitals are of course required, but so is a renewed focus on the indispensable role of nurses in the community.

The International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife represents a wonderful opportunity to raise the profile of community nursing with the public, with the media and with policy makers. It’s also an ideal moment to encourage more people to think – or think again – about a career as a community nurse. Community nurses I speak with are all absolutely passionate about their work and the fundamental difference they make to the health and wellbeing of individuals, carers, families and communities through their work which takes place in a wide variety of roles in both health and social care settings.

Supporting more people – at every level in the system – to realise the potential of community nursing is absolutely vital if we are to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan and meet the health and social care needs of our population. This year feels like a perfect opportunity to share the evidence of the impact community nurses are making every day in every village, town and city of the UK.

Working with Health Education England and the creative agency, Mother, the QNI has made a film, Nursing in the Community, to be launched this month. The film follows district nursing teams in London, Leeds and Dorset, delivering complex care to people in their own homes and other community settings. We are extremely grateful to the Queen’s Nurses who helped make the film – on camera and behind the scenes. I hope that you will be as moved as I was to see the outstanding care being delivered by teams of nurses and the skill and compassion they show as they change the lives of their patients and their loved ones.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive, QNI