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2020: International Year of The Nurse and Midwife

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This is our time: 2020 is the Year of the Nurse and Midwife

Hampshire is planning a major event to mark the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

2020 is Florence Nightingale’s bicentennial year, designated by World Health Organisation as the first ever global Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

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.

2020 is our time to reflect on these skills, the commitment and expert clinical care they bring, and the impact they make on the lives of so many. This year is also an opportunity to say thank you to the professions; to showcase their diverse talents and expertise; and to promote nursing and midwifery as careers with a great deal to offer.

Florence Nightingale Bicentenary Commemoration at Winchester Cathedral

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health Education England (Wessex) and NHS England and NHS Improvement are working on a major event for nurses across the Wessex region on the 200th anniversary of Florence’s birth.

In view of the current health climate, organisers have postponed the planned Florence Nightingale Bicentenary Service at Winchester Cathedral which was originally going to be held on May 12. We are aiming for the service to be re-organised later this year, as a celebration of nursing and midwifery.

For enquiries, please email

Florence’s strong Hampshire connections

Hampshire had special claims on Florence Nightingale’s affections.

Embley Park, in Wellow, near Romsey, was the Nightingale’s family home from 1825 until her death in 1910. It is also where Florence said she received her divine calling to become a nurse.

Florence stayed at Embley after her return from the Crimean War for some time before returning for visits whilst living in London. It was during one of her visits that she was able to use her influence in the siting of the present Royal Hampshire County Hospital at Winchester, ensuring that it was located on an airy hilltop instead of a proposed site on lower ground. 

After she died in London, in 1910, her body was brought by train back to Romsey and her coffin carried from the station to the church at East Wellow, where she is buried. 

Florence also tried to influence the redesign of a new military hospital at Netley in Hampshire. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for The Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley in May 1856, and work was completed in 1863. It had 138 wards and beds for more than 1,000 patients. Florence saw the plans for the hospital when she returned from the Crimea and immediately wrote a report condemning them - especially the lack of windows in the wards and the very long corridor which ran in front of the wards. Some changes were made to the windows but little else was done to meet her concerns. 

However the success of using nurses during the Crimean War led to the hospital being established as a training centre for the new Nursing Service. Netley became the largest military hospital of its time, and was full to capacity during World War One and handed over to the Americans during World War Two.