Nurses and nursing are firmly rooted in Britain’s heritage, for the profession as we know it today owes much to the pioneering work of Florence Nightingale. Before she helped the establish the first nurse training school in Liverpool in the late 1800s, the women who looked after the sick were a motley mix.
The role of the nurse has developed from the untrained handywoman and private nurse, through the early nurses who acted as ‘health missioners’, to the highly trained professionals we recognise today. Nurse training has evolved to reflect the advances in medical treatment and nurses have been able to engage more widely with the community by undergoing additional training as, for example, district nurse, school nurses, midwives, health visitors and mental health nurses. During both world wars, nurses made a special contribution on the home front and overseas. Using first-hand accounts from nurses through the ages, Susan Cohen takes us on a nostalgic journey through the history of nurses and nursing in Britain, from the pre-Nightingale days through to the post-NHS era.
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