Ethel Gordon Fenwick campaigned for over 30 years for nurse registration which gave legal recognition to the title nurse.
During this time she faced considerable opposition. Writing in the British Journal of Nursing a few weeks after the Nurses Registration Act (1919)was passed, Ethel reflected on the implications of this opposition on the development of professional nursing:
“We must not forget the lamentable attitude of the managers of Training Schools and others in opposing all reform by state aid for thirty years, nor the apathy and lack or public spirit exhibited by succeeding generations of nurses during that time. Had hospital managers and certificated nurses responded to a sense of public and professional duty thirty years ago, the profession of nursing would by now be a highly-skilled, well-disciplined, and well-remunerated body; as it is, abuses have multiplied, and although the act lays sound foundations upon which to build, the whole superstructure of professional organisation must be built up”.
Source Fenwick, E. (Mrs Bedford) (ed.) (1920) The Nurses Registration Act. The British Journal of Nursing. 10 January 1920. 1658; (LXlV). rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME064-1920/page021-volume64-10thjanuary1920.pdf
The timeline below catalogues the significant events that have happened since the Nurses Registration Act was passed. I think Ethel would be proud of how far nursing has come.
This timeline is reproduced with permission of the Nursing and Midwifery Council. nmc.org.uk/always-caring
|1919||The Nurses Registration Act||The Nurses Registration Act is passed in Parliament on |
(GNC) for England and
|The General Nursing Council (GNC) for England and |
Wales is set up, along with one for Scotland and one for
Ireland. Council members are selected by the Minister for Health.
becomes the first nurse registered in theUK
|After 30 years of campaigning for the state registration of nurses, Ethel Fenwick becomes the first nurse |
registered in the UK. She’s issued with badge number
one, containing an image of Hygeia – the Roman goddess
of health. Male nurses are kept on a separate register
|1923||Council established||The first elected council members are chosen.|
|1939||Second World War||The start of the Second World War. The need for more |
nurses, especially in the armed forces leads to an increase
|1948||NHS founded||The National Health Service (NHS) is founded on 5 July.|
|The Nurses Act is passed to establish a framework for |
nursing within the NHS. This includes accepting nurses
from overseas for registration.
|1951||One register||Female and male nurses appear on the same register for |
the first time.
|1950-1959||Nurses from abroad||Nurses trained abroad are registered for the first time. |
Many of them are from British colonies or former colonies, especially in the Caribbean.
|1960||Degree accreditation||The University of Edinburgh offers the first degree course |
in nursing in the UK.
|1966||Salmon report||The Salmon Report calls for the development of senior |
nursing staff and reform to nurse grading, leading to the
end of matrons.
|1979||Modernisation||The Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act is |
introduced, which leads to the creation of national boards for education and modernisation of the regulatory
|1983||UKCC established||The United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, |
Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC) replaces
The GNC’s funds move to trusts dedicated to
nursing education and driving standards of care. Those
trusts still exist today.
|2002||The NMC is established||The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) replaces the UKCC on 1 April.|
|2010||Education standards||NMC first publishes its standards for pre-registration |
|2015||The Code||A revised version of the NMC Code is published to reflect |
the introduction of revalidation.
|2016||Revalidation||The first nurses and midwives revalidate to reflect on their practice and how the Code applies |
their day-today work.
|The Nursing and Midwifery Council publishes ambitious |
new standards for educating the nurses of the future
|First nursing associates appear on the register on 28 |
|2020||The year of the |
|Throughout 2020 we will be celebrating with others across the health and care sector.|