Celebrating nursing

As members prepare to party for Nurses’ Day on 12 May, the UK’s chief nursing officers share what they feel there is to celebrate about the profession right now


Ruth May

This year is a year of firsts for me. Among these, as you may know, it is my first as Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England, and now my first Nurses’ Day as CNO. This has given me the opportunity to reflect on completing my first 100 days in the role, and to say thank you to each and every nurse for their commitment, skill and care.
I’ve spent as many of my first 100 days as I could on the road.  I’ve been meeting nurses and midwives across England, listening to their experiences and ideas to inform my vision. 
One thing that has leapt out at me is the number of inspiring people I’ve met along the way – and how much we have to celebrate about our profession.

Among us the nurses with expertise in emergency care, who give confidence to patients to take steps towards recovery. The nurses who support families in caring for their parents with Alzheimer’s. The nurses who do the work day-in, day-out, to give people the care that saves their lives and allows them to live the best life they can.  

Ours is a truly unique profession

Every family has their own story about the nurse who was there for them in the most profound moments of their lives. And they don’t just talk about how the nurses made them feel better with their kindness, warmth and compassion. They talk about how reassured they were, how much more confident they were, because of the nurses’ skill, expertise and competence. 
I had the opportunity to share my vision at the CNO summit in March, emphasising the three key themes; building a workforce fit for the future, renewing the reputation of our profession and speaking with one collective voice. 

We have launched #teamCNO, recognising we are all part of the team. This is really important to me. Underpinning the delivery of this vision is each of us. The amazing work we do. If we value ourselves and each other, if we speak as one, we are a stronger, collective voice.  We should remember that what we do has an enormous impact on people, and they remember us. 

If we value ourselves and each other, if we speak as one, we are a stronger, collective voice

I am proud to be a nurse. We are educated, and skilled. We support people at their most vulnerable times, and year in, year out we are voted the most trusted profession. And ours is a profession which continues to evolve, to support the changing needs of our patients and the public.
So, on this Nurses’ Day I am optimistic for the future. We have a vision, we have the commitments of the NHS Long Term Plan and we have the opportunity to make a real difference and to value ourselves and each other.

Picture by Barney Newman

Northern Ireland

Charlotte McArdle

Nursing is a dynamic, flexible and respected profession. It learns from its past to inform its future and it shapes itself to meet the needs of the population. 

Though shortages are making working environments particularly challenging, our nurses go the extra mile and do extraordinary things to make sure people are cared for to the best of their ability. As a nurse, every day is different, you’re pushed to your limits, but you go home knowing you’ve made a difference. 

Nurses are the holders of hope for the future

For me, nurses are the holders of hope for the future. Our new nurses have such an exciting career ahead of them because so many future care services will be nurse-led. Nursing will continue to evolve, with early intervention being where the profession can have its biggest impact. 

In Northern Ireland, we’ve been investing heavily in undergraduate nurse training places and this year we’ll see the first of those additional graduates join the register. Next year we will see that increase, and the following year increase again. So we’re starting to see the fruits of our investment, which I hope will give optimism to those trying to deliver care across our settings. 

Charlotte McArdle

On Nurses’ Day, I want to say a very big thank you to our nurses because I know how stressed our profession is at the moment. Our nurses are tenacious and hardworking and they have my deep appreciation for that. I also want to say, bear with us. It will take a little longer to sort out our workforce challenges but there is a plan and we will start to see the benefits of that soon.

Nursing is, for me, the best profession in the world. If you hold it dear, love it, cherish it, and treat it with respect, it can be the most rewarding career ever, in my opinion. There’s hope for the future – and things will get better as we work together to transform the health and social care system.


Fiona McQueen

Nursing is the most trusted profession in the UK. The range and depth of roles nurses can carry out, while maintaining their core purpose, is second to none. 

Nursing is so unique. That human element, that’s central to what nursing is and does, combined with the scientific knowledge and critical thinking that underpins nursing practice, makes it an exceptional career.

I can’t think of a profession that has deeper values

The ability of nurses to connect with people across communities and ages, making a tangible difference to people’s lives, is something to be incredibly proud of.

There is so much to look forward to. The Scottish Government is showing it really values nursing. The bursary for nursing students is increasing, the number of student nurses is growing and there will be more funding for postgraduate education and training. 

Fiona McQueen

The health and care staffing legislation going through parliament commits to making sure the workload of nurses is taken into account in workforce planning. Nursing is a challenging job, and we take it in our stride, but this recognises the importance of nurses’ wellbeing. 

So this Nurses’ Day, I would like to thank Scotland’s nursing staff for the daily work they do caring for patients in a way that is sensitive, compassionate and so essential for their health and wellbeing. 


Jean White

Nurses have always been flexible and creative when providing health and wellbeing support to people of all ages. In recent years there has been global recognition of the essential contribution nurses make to population health. 

In Wales, nurses are stepping up to help shape national strategies and are leading the way in delivering improved service models. Strong nurse leadership really does make a difference to the quality and safety of care in our services.

There can be few professions that offer the diversity of roles that nursing does

Nurses are trusted professionals and it is a privilege for us to provide care for people in their time of need.

There is much to look forward to for nursing staff in Wales. We have a new integrated health and social care plan, and nurses will be essential in moving more care out to the community.  

Workforce has been a priority for a number of years, so in addition to the now enacted nurse staffing levels legislation, we will start to see increasing numbers of newly qualified staff enter the workforce. 

We continue to support students with the bursary and we are focussed on retention and recruitment. We’ve also increased advanced practice, health visiting and district nursing education to support our new service models. 

Nursing is a wonderful profession with many highs and lows but when done with passion and commitment it can bring great joy

Thank you all for your hard work and please accept my best wishes this Nurses’ Day.

Ready to celebrate?

Join the UK’s Biggest Nursing Party on 12 May to celebrate Nurses’ Day and the remarkable difference you make. 

Find out more and get inspiration for your party. 

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