Florence Nightingale: the pandemic hero we need

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Florence Nightingale: the pandemic hero we need

Most famous as a nurse, her innovative use of data helped also prevent many deaths from infectious diseases

Tim Harford

The Florence Nightingale Museum in London, devoted to the pioneering 19th-century nurse, is closing its doors indefinitely.

The museum director, David Green, describes the plan as “hibernation”; the collection will remain on site at St Thomas’s Hospital.

The timing could hardly be more ironic. Last year was Nightingale’s bicentennial. The museum had invested heavily in a new exhibition; it opened in early March, less than a month before the UK’s long first lockdown. Celebratory events across the country had been planned — I was to attend one organised by the Royal Statistical Society — but instead Nightingale was commemorated by the decision to name new emergency hospitals after her...

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