70 of the best: NHS celebrates its most influential nurses

Nursing Standard and NHS England name the most influential nurses in 70 years of the NHS

Nursing Standard and NHS England compiled a list of the most important nurses in celebration of 70 years of the health service

70 nurses

The names of 70 nurses who shaped the NHS over its seven decades are revealed today in a celebratory list marking the health service's 70th anniversary.

In a joint project, Nursing Standard and NHS England have compiled 70 NHS Years: A Celebration of 70 Influential Nurses and Midwives From 1948 to 2018 highlighting the best of nursing since the foundation of the NHS 70 years ago this week.

Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu, who helped pioneer the screening of babies for sickle cell anaemia, and Doreen Norton, who helped change how nurses manage pressure ulcers, feature in the list.

From post-war Britain to the social media age

Other nurses have been chosen for the way they shook the health system to its core, such as Helene Donnelly and Ray Rowden who raised concerns on poor standards of care.

The list covers the entire period of the NHS’s history from Annie Altschul, who became a nurse in the UK after fleeing Austria's annexation by the Nazis, and the appointment of the first chief nursing officer Dame Elizabeth Cockayne, to Teresa Chinn who promotes connections between nurses on social media today.

England’s chief nursing officer Jane Cummings, who was a list judge, said one of the most challenging aspects was limiting it to just 70. However, she did note that despite the passage of time, some aspects of nurses were universal.

Values that span the decades

‘There are so many more leaders and iconic figures who could be mentioned, but a striking similarity between nurses and midwives of the past and those today is in the values they adopt,’ Ms Cummings said.

‘I am pleased to be able to say that the 6Cs – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment – as a value base for nursing, midwifery and care staff, continue to underpin the work of all staff.

‘I am delighted they remain as relevant today as they have been for many decades, ensuring patients and those we care for will never forget what we do for them and how we make them feel.’

Another judge, RCNi editorial director Graham Scott said he hoped the achievements of the nurses named would inspire the next generation.

‘There are many great nurses and midwives who missed the cut, and doubtless there are many whose names have not been discussed because their work has never received the recognition it deserves,’ he said.

‘Nevertheless, the impressive achievements of the final 70 serve as a suitable celebration of nursing and midwifery over the past seven decades and, hopefully, will inspire today’s students and schoolchildren to achieve even greater heights than their predecessors.’

Further Information

70 NHS Years: A Celebration of 70 Influential Nurses and Midwives From 1948 to 2018 
The list will also go out to Nursing Standard subscribers with July's printed edition

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