Features

Margaret Green – An education reformer who championed graduate-entry nursing

Margaret Green, who has died at the age of 87, was director of education at the RCN at a time of major upheaval in nursing and was a leading figure in the move towards a graduate-entry profession.
green

Margaret Green, who has died at the age of 87, was director of education at the RCN at a time of major upheaval in nursing and was a leading figure in the move towards a graduate-entry profession

Ms Green worked for the RCN for 24 years from 1966 to 1990. She was instrumental in helping to set up the UKCC the forerunner of the present NMC and in introducing major changes to nurse education such as Project 2000 and PREP.

Born in 1929, she trained as a nurse at the Kent County Ophthalmic and Aural Hospital, London Hospital and the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, qualifying in 1955 despite being forced to abandon her training for 18 months because of TB.

She held a number of posts, mainly in nurse education, before joining the RCN as a

...

Margaret Green, who has died at the age of 87, was director of education at the RCN at a time of major upheaval in nursing and was a leading figure in the move towards a graduate-entry profession

Margaret Green
Margaret Green. Picture: Apex

Ms Green worked for the RCN for 24 years from 1966 to 1990. She was instrumental in helping to set up the UKCC – the forerunner of the present NMC – and in introducing major changes to nurse education such as Project 2000 and PREP.

Born in 1929, she trained as a nurse at the Kent County Ophthalmic and Aural Hospital, London Hospital and the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, qualifying in 1955 – despite being forced to abandon her training for 18 months because of TB.

She held a number of posts, mainly in nurse education, before joining the RCN as a tutor in the then-Education Division, later becoming head of the Professional Nursing Department. In 1976 she was appointed director of education and principal of the Institute of Advanced Nursing Education, a post she held until her retirement in 1990.

She was also a member of the Association for Integrated and Degree Courses in Nursing, a small group of nurse educators who sought to introduce higher academic standards and helped set up the first degree courses in nursing.

Margaret Green
At her degree award from Middlesex Polytechnic in 1969. Picture: Apex

Traditionally, nurse training had been based on an apprenticeship model where students learnt through observation and practice in clinical settings, supplemented by classroom teaching in nursing schools. Inevitably, service needs took precedence over education needs. Students were seen as “extra pairs of hands”. Margaret was one of many nurse reformers at the time determined to place nurse education on a completely different footing

Margaret Green
In 1947 at Maidstone Hospital. Picture: Apex

She was heavily involved throughout the 1970s in the battle to introduce legislation needed to reform both the training and structures of the profession. The Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act of 1979 led to the establishment of the UKCC (United Kingdom Central Council), which for the first time brought all the UK’s regulating bodies within one organisation and introduced a single professional register for practitioners.

Margaret became a highly influential member of both the UKCC and the English National Board, which she chaired. Throughout this time she and like-minded colleagues continued to press for a more academic basis for nurse training.

Champion of continuing development

She was a member of the RCN-backed Judge Commission which argued that nurse education needed to be uncoupled from service needs. She also chaired the UKCC committee which in 1986 produced Project 2000: A New Preparation for Practice, which recommended that nurse training be moved into higher education and that students should become supernumerary. The proposals were controversial from the start but were finally introduced in 1990 and are widely recognised as the forerunner of today’s all-graduate profession.

A champion of continuing development, Margaret was also influential in preparing the ground for PREP (Post-Registration Education and Practice) – recently superseded by revalidation – although it was not implemented until after she had retired.

During her time at the RCN Margaret also served for a brief period as deputy general secretary and acting head of press and public relations. She was awarded an OBE in 1986 and became an RCN fellow the following year. 

Busy in retirement

In 1990 she retired to Devon along with two close nursing friends but remained as busy as ever. Among other things she was a director of Exeter Hospiscare as well as governor and then chair of the board of governors at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. She was also a visiting professor at Exeter University and a director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation until 1992.

Margaret converted to Catholicism in later life and was made a Dame of St Gregory by the Pope in recognition of her work for the church.

Margaret Green
After retirement she remained busy, with posts including that of visiting professor at Exeter University. Picture: Apex

 

At the same time she maintained a liking for the finer things of life. This included a taste for fast cars, something that was kindled when – at the age of just 14 – she had the chance to drive some of the army trucks that were assembling for D-Day in 1944. She would always choose top-of-the-range models – often Mercedes-Benz – and replace them every couple of years. In later years she reluctantly decided to downsize to a smaller car, but the experiment lasted for only six months before she traded it in and returned to what she knew and loved.

Former RCN council member Professor Christine Chapman adds…

Margaret’s father owned a garage and she involved herself as much as possible, including acting as a driving instructor. While doing her nurse tutor course at Battersea she joined the students’ car club. A popular event was night rallying, which Margaret did with her friend Kay Chatfield, much to the surprise of the young male students, who thought tutor students were far too old for such activity.

Later in life her affection transferred to big smart cars, notably Mercedes-Benz. She changed to the latest model every two years. She hated being driven and was a critical passenger. The day when she was no longer able to drive and her final car was sold was a sad occasion.

Margaret was a loyal but often critical friend. She did not tolerate fools gladly but would help anyone in need.

She loved the sun, and holidays were always taken somewhere hot, where she stayed in the sun when everyone else retreated to the shade. She felt a strong suntan was a must. After retirement her holidays became more adventurous, including safaris in Africa, cruises and visits to unusual destinations.

In retirement Margaret, Joan Wheeler and myself moved to live near each other in Devon. This was a long-held plan as we had holidays together for many years and felt we would enjoy mutual fun and support in retirement. We did not want to live together but to be near each other, and in the end lived within a four-mile radius.
This worked well. There was always someone to share outings, visits to concerts and more importantly provide care in illness. It is hard being the last survivor.

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs