The Seacole legacy

The history of the NHS – and the success of its future – is linked to BME nurses, says Beverley Brathwaite

The history of the NHS – and the success of its future – is linked to BME nurses, says Beverley Brathwaite.

Abstract

To move forward in the future, you need to remember the past – where black nurses have come from and how far we have travelled.

The story of black and minority ethnic (BME) nurses in Britain, particularly those of Caribbean origin, begins with Mary Seacole, the most prominent woman of Caribbean origin to nurse in the 19 th century.

Mrs Seacole provided nursing care in Jamaica, Central America, England and famously on the battle fields of the Crimean War. Despite being acknowledged by contemporaries – she was highly acclaimed by soldiers and Queen Victoria – her contribution was soon forgotten, and she remained absent from the official history of nursing for more than 100 years.

Read the article

This article was first published in print in Nursing Standard: volume 30, issue 5

This article is for subscribers only