Florence Nightingale: Reflections on Diversity, the National Health Service, and the Coronavirus Pandemic


The year 2021, the year after Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary, named the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organization, seems a suitable time to assess her ongoing relevance to nursing and healthcare more broadly. Given that the same year was marked by the worldwide spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the question arises as to the utility of her use of research to bring down death rates, from the high death rates at the defective army hospitals of the Crimean War.

The year 2020 also saw much publication on Nightingale, highly favourable in the case of historians of statistics, hostile in the case of several prominent nursing leaders, including charges of racism. An anti-racist herself, Nightingale inspired the first black nurse in the National Health Service, Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, who went on to be the major leader in the introduction of professional nursing in her own country of Nigeria, and more widely in Africa. Reasons for the failure of today’s nurses to give due recognition to this Nigerian nursing leader are explored. Addressing charges of racism, examples from Nightingale’s own work are introduced to show flagrant inaccuracies in the accusations levelled, sometimes with evidence that she took a position to the contrary.

Published March 2021 in EC Nursing and Healthcare. To continue reading, please download the link below: