Moorfields celebrates International Nurses Day

Today is International Nurses Day, celebrated on Florence Nightingale’s birthday each year, and this year also marks the 200th anniversary of Florence’s birth. To commemorate this bicentennial year, the World Health Organization designated 2020 as the first ever global Year of the Nurse and Midwife. With a global pandemic to deal with, our nurses and midwives continue to put themselves on the front line to protect and care for others.

A governor of Moorfields, Florence Nightingale is remembered as the as the founder of modern nursing and a healthcare pioneer – it was Nightingale who introduced the importance of handwashing in the battle against germs - and her legacy still lives on today.  

Nurses and midwives make up the largest numbers of the NHS workforce. They are highly skilled, multi-faceted professionals from a host of backgrounds that represent our diverse communities. At Moorfields Eye Hospital, nurses work across 25 sites, from City Road in central London, to Croydon University Hospital, caring for patients with sight problems and sight loss. During the current crisis, though, many of these nurses have been redeployed to work at hospitals across London, including NHS Nightingale, to care for patients with Covid-19.

“During this difficult period, I have been amazed at how Moorfields’ nurses have responded to calls for support from the wider NHS,” says Tracy Luckett, director of nursing and allied health professions at Moorfields. “Whether this is a night shift at the Nightingale, redeployment at a Moorfields host trust or supporting the team at Moorfields, every nurse has embraced the challenge with energy, commitment and compassion. I’m proud of what we have achieved as a nursing team and I extend my thanks to all of you.”

This year offers us a chance to showcase the care and commitment of our nurses but also to say thank you to them for their dedication to our patients, especially given the current crisis we are faced with. Oksana Wilkinson, staff nurse at Moorfields at Ealing, was redeployed to NHS Nightingale, and has been working tirelessly to care for and support patients with Covid-19.

“It was an honour to work at NHS Nightingale London,” says Oksana. “All of us worked very hard during our 12.5 hour shifts, looking after critical high dependency patients who required one-to-one care 24 hours a day. It was a privilege to work within a team of extremely determined and dedicated people, which made our task of saving lives much easier. These memories will stay with me forever.”

Earlier this year, we caught up with Oksana and Christine Real, matron at Moorfields St George’s, who was also redeployed to another hospital in London. We asked them both what inspired them to take up a career in nursing, and what they find rewarding working at Moorfields.

Florence at Moorfields

Florence Nightingale was a governor of Moorfields Eye Hospital, or the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital was it was known then. It is thought she came to be involved with Moorfields because of her friendship with Sir William Bowman, a surgeon who practised as an ophthalmologist at the hospital. Florence and William met at Harley Street and kept in touch when Florence was serving in the Crimea. Florence often wrote to William, outlining in great detail the horror of the injuries sustained by the soldiers and the unsanitary and ill-equipped hospital in which they were being treated.

Florence’s letters were printed in the Times and forced a change in government that saw the commission of a hospital designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The prefabricated hospital was shipped to Scutari and Florence and her team were able to revolutionise the care given to soldiers. As a result, the death rate of soldiers dropped significantly.

You can read more about Florence Nightingale and her connection to Moorfield’s in Richard Keeler’s article, written for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. You can also view some archive photos of Florence, in the Crimea and in London on Twitter. Thanks to Richard for helping us to retrieve these photos and for his excellent knowledge of Florence and William Bowman. 

Share your story

Nursing touches all of our lives at some point: we all have a connection, and we’d love to hear your stories of Moorfields nurses who’ve cared for you. If you’d like to share your story, please email us at: You can also post your memories of Moorfields nurses and messages of thanks to our TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn channels, using #YearOfTheNurseAndMidwife. 

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