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Celebrating 100 Years of Professional Nursing
Celebrating 100 Years of Professional Nursing

20 Dec 2019

Celebrating 100 Years of Professional Nursing

Monday, 23rd December 2019 marks 100 years since the passing of the Nurses Registration Act. This legislation allowed for the creation of the General Nursing Council (GNC) and was an enormous step forward in enabling the professional regulation of nursing.

We’ve taken a look at the Act, what led to its creation and how it has ultimately transformed nursing in the UK for the better.


Safeguarding the title of ‘Nurse’

Ethel Gordon Fenwick was a British Nurse who campaigned for the introduction of a compulsory nurses’ register. This was seen as a way to advance nursing as a profession, as well as ensure Nurses met a minimum standard that qualified them to practice.

However, reaching her goal wasn’t easy, which is why she campaigned tirelessly for several decades, lobbying parliament during a time where women couldn’t even vote, in order to make the Nurses Registration Act a reality.


Why was the Act necessary?

Prior to the Act, there was no regulation surrounding nursing as a profession. Alarmingly, this meant that even if a person didn’t have the correct training or qualifications, they could claim to be a Nurse.

Ethel Gordon Fenwick once famously explained the risk this posed to Nurses and patients when recounting the story of a malicious ‘Nurse’. After being dismissed from one hospital for attempting to poison a Sister, she was able to find a new job in a different nursing institute where she was later accused of poisoning a patient.

The Act was hugely important, not just to safeguard the reputation of Nurses - ensuring that only those who had completed training, demonstrated good character and had the right skills could be classed as Nurses - but also protecting patients from unqualified and dangerous treatment.


The continued evolution of nursing

The Nurses Registration Act was only the beginning of regulation and standardisation in nursing, and began a raft of changes that rapidly transformed nursing as a profession.

An ongoing focus on training and the continued development of nursing staff owes a huge debt to Ethel George Fenwick and her relentless commitment to campaigning. She had a deep understanding of the integral role that Nurses play in helping and supporting patients recovering from illness and injuries.

Throughout the remainder of her life, Ethel was a member of a number of professional bodies and campaigned for standardised training for Nurses. This is work that still continues to this day, ensuring that Nurses are at the forefront of their industry and maintain a continued level of development and training.

At Speed Medical, we’re incredibly proud to work with so many dedicated, passionate Nurses who continually deliver a range of quality services to our customers as part of our Expert Panel. To find out more about our panel and the fantastic work our Nurses and other experts do, please visit our experts page.

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