Celebrations across the UK for International Nurses Day

The RCN wants patients and their families to thank nurses who have touched their lives as part of the annual celebrations

Nurses across the world will today (May 12) celebrate their profession and its contribution to health care with International Nurses Day. 

The annual event is held on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth and will be marked with events in hospitals and other care settings throughout the UK. 

The RCN is calling on patients and their families to use the day to thank nurses who have touched their lives. 

Stories of nursing excellence and compassion can be shared on the RCN’s website or on social media using the hashtag #thankanurse.

A celebration, which is open to all, will take place outside the college’s headquarters in London where messages of appreciation can also be left.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: ‘International Nurses Day is one of my favourite days of the year, as it gives everyone the chance to celebrate the thousands of dedicated nurses from all over the world.’

The college’s president Cecilia Anim cut the ribbon on a sculpture commemorating nursing as part of celebrations in London on Wednesday (May 11). 

The redwood statue at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust depicts a nursing uniform from the Crimean War in tribute to nursing pioneers Miss Nightingale and Mary Seacole, who cared for wounded soldiers during the conflict. 

It was commissioned and designed by nurses at the trust and has the words ‘care’, ‘compassion’ and ‘respect’ carved into the wood.

The trust’s director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals Michael Fanning said: ‘It was a great honour to have Cecilia Anim here as part of our celebrations and have her unveil this wonderful new sculpture which embodies both the founders of nursing and our modern day values.’  

Other events being held to mark International Nurses Day include: 

Nursing staff in Leicester’s hospitals will be sporting period nursing outfits from the first and second world wars as well as holding tea parties and cake sales to raise money for their wards. 

At Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, nurses and midwives have starred in videos, which can be viewed here, celebrating their best practice and thanking nurses around the world for their efforts. 

Staff will emulate The Great British Bake Off with their own competition at Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, where chief nurse Lisa Knight will take food around the wards. 

About 100 nurses will gather in Lincolnshire for an inaugural practice nurses conference, organised by Lincolnshire West clinical commissioning group, which includes talks from Queen's Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman.

The RCN's celebrations will be held between 11am and 3pm in Cavendish Square, London. 

Share messages of thanks with the RCN by visiting here and send your photos from celebrations today to