RCN centenary

A century on, their legacy remains

Frances Pickersgill looks at how the skill and heroism of nurses in the Great War left an invaluable imprint on their profession back in Britain

Frances Pickersgill looks at how the skill and heroism of nurses in the Great War left an invaluable imprint on their profession back in Britain.

Abstract

The first world war both delayed the campaign for nursing regulation and reinforced the need for it.

As Remembrance Day approaches, thoughts are turning again to the work of those involved in the Great War. More than 17,000 nurses including 300 nurses of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), 10,000 QAIMNS reserves and 8,000 Territorial Force nurses were recruited to treat casualties during the battles of Mons, Ypres, the Somme and Passchendaele.

This caused the campaign for nursing regulation to be delayed, says director of the centre for nursing history at Manchester University, Christine Hallett. ‘The war depleted an already under-resourced workforce at home, but the nurses supporting the war effort never put a foot wrong in their commitment to providing the best possible nursing care to sick and wounded soldiers,’ says Professor Hallett.

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This article was first published in print in Nursing Standard: volume 29, issue 10

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