International Nurses Day is marked each year in the Island and around the world on 12 May, the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing.
No one could have predicted that the special celebrations planned as the centrepiece of International Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 this month would have to be scaled back, as nurses and their fellow healthcare workers face the Covid-19 global health emergency.
The Year of the Nurse and Midwife was designated by the World Health Organisation to mark the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, and a series of events planned across the 12 months around the Island had just begun when the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Nursing staff in all areas of the profession are working at pace as part of the Island's Covid-19 response, the vast majority on the front line treating patients and helping to protect vulnerable residents. At the same time, the Island's midwives are maintaining their services in the hospital and the community, in unprecedented and difficult circumstances.
As a result, events including a garden party and a group walk between the sites of former hospitals in and around Douglas themed 'The Lady with the Lamp', have all had to be postponed.
Instead, the day will be marked among nursing and midwifery colleagues in a modest way out of respect for all whose lives have been affected by Covid-19, and to maintain social distancing rules.
Director of Nursing in the Isle of Man Cath Quilliam said:
'Nursing and midwifery have achieved the raised profile and recognition we hoped for, but not in the way we had planned. Staff in all parts of the profession have shown outstanding commitment and dedication during the current crisis. Our hospital nurses, nurses working in the community, mental health nurses, the prison nursing service, our midwives and student nurses - as well as those working in the hospice and in care homes - have given their all, and continue to do so.
Mrs Quilliam added:
'Nurses and midwives sign up to the 'Six Cs' of nursing: Care, Courage, Commitment, Compassion, Communication and Competence. These qualities are being demonstrated on a daily basis, with many staff going the extra mile as standard. I am proud and pleased that their contribution is being so widely recognised and admired by the general public.
'International Nurses Day this year will be an opportunity to reflect on the difference our efforts are making, and to take pride in our achievements. We will celebrate later, when the pandemic is over.'
Isle of Man Post Office is to launch its special stamp issue marking Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 as planned on 12 May. The set of eight images captures the different spheres of nursing in the Island, highlighting the contribution of nurses and midwives to modern day health practices, and the professional care provided to the community.
The stamp issue has been designed locally by Dave Macdonald of DM Design.