{short description of image}
Some steps in the development of nursing in Britain as a profession  
1. In the medieval period the care of the sick was undertaken in monastic houses. Medal
buckle 2. At the Reformation in sixteenth century Britain, the monasteries were done away with. However three monastic infirmaries were refounded: St. Bartholomew's (1546), St. Thomas's (1551) and the Bethlehem Hospital. Otherwise such nursing as there was, was then normally provided in the home. There was little understanding of disease, medicine and appropriate nursing care, so that nursing would be as good - or as bad - in the home as anywhere else.
3. On the continent, In the seventeenth century, a French priest, Vincent de Paul, organised regular visiting of the sick in his parish by women who would see that they were washed, fed and made comfortable. He then founded the lay Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, where sick people could be nursed in an organized manner by people recruited specially for this work. Medal
buckle 4. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw a growth in the provision of hospitals. In the eighteenth century these were founded by individual benefactors or, more usually, by a body of philanthropic subscribers. The first of these was Westminster Infirmary (1720) followed soon afterwards by Guy's Hospital (1724) and Edinburgh Infirmary (1729). The founding of voluntary hospitals continued in the nineteenth century. But now other hospitals were provided by local authorities in response to society's perceived needs. There were private asylums for people from wealthy families, and other asylums provided by county magistrates for those of the poor, who suffered from psychiatric illnesses. Municipal councils provided isolation hospitals for people with such illnesses as diptheria or scarlet fever. Boards of Guardians provided infirmaries, associated with the workhouses, for the poor. Each of these hospitals and institutions provided some measure of 'on the job' training for their nurses.
5. Theodor Fliedner, a German pastor, opened an institute at Kaiserwerth, near Dusseldorf, in 1833 where deaconesses were given some training in the care of the sick. His movement spread rapidly and many more houses were opened. He had an influence on Elizabeth Fry and on Florence Nightingale who undertook a period of training there herself. Medal
buckle 6. In 1840 Elizabeth Fry established the Institution of Nursing Sisters who would learn their work in a general hospital and then nurse the sick in their own homes.
7. In 1848 two nursing orders were founded within the Church of England: the Sisters of Mercy and the Community of St.John's House. Medal
buckle 8. On 24 June 1860 the first probationers began their course at the Nightingale Training School at St.Thomas's Hospital, London. This was, it is often argued, the world's first truly professional nurse training school, with a regular programme of lectures as well as work in the hospital wards. It was founded with money raised as a tribute to the work of Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War. She herself took a close interest in the nature of the training provided.
9. William Rathbone, adopting a suggestion made by Florence Nightingale, provided a school of nursing in Liverpool where women could be trained for hospital work and as district nurses. Medal
buckle 10. The influence of Nightingale -trained nurses spread to other hospitals and from the 1880s onwards standards or nursing training improved very substantially.
11 The Nurses Registration Act of 1919 gave formal recognition to appropriately trained nurses, who became SRNs, or State Registered Nurses, registered by the General Nursing Council. This provided a standard system of accreditation. Medal
buckle 12..Until the end of the first world war nursing was regarded as a profession primarily for women. There were male nurses long before this but they were to be found normally either in military hospitals or asylums for the mentally ill. After the war, during a period of high unemployment, there was an influx of men into the nursing profession although even at the end of the twentieth century only some 12% of nurses in Britain are male and the majority of these are engaged in the care of the mentally ill.
13. In 1939, in an effort to secure more nurses, the classification of SEN, or State Enrolled Nurse, was introduced, requring a lesser achievement that the SRNs. Medal
buckle 14. University degree courses for nurses were introduced in the 1960s but attracted fewer candidates than had been hoped.
15. In 1979 the Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visitors Act established the Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC). Medal
buckle 16. The 1980s saw a major review of nurse recruitment and training needs, resulting in the Project 2000 approach to nurse training. This reflects a shift towards a more academic framework with Schools of Nursing now linked with institutions of higher education. Nurses qualifying under Project 2000 gain a University Diploma of Higher Education and at the same time become General Registered Nurses.