Higher education postcard: London Hospital

This week’s card from Hugh Jones’ postbag goes out on a limb

Hugh Jones is a freelance HE consultant. You’ll find a daily #HigherEducationPostcard if you follow him on Twitter.

Tredegar House, in Bow, was built in 1911-12 as accommodation for trainee nurses at the London Hospital.

At that time, nurse education was the responsibility of individual hospitals. Here’s a good summary and timeline of the development of nursing as a profession in the UK.

The first nursing school was opened in 1860 at St Thomas’ Hospital in London – the Nightingale School. Other schools followed – for example, St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1867. The British Nurses Association – formed in 1887 – campaigned for the recognition of nursing as a profession; the General Nursing Council was formed in 1916.

Slowly, slowly the profession developed: for example, in the 1950s Glasgow Royal Infirmary piloted a scheme whereby trainee nurses were given the status of students rather than employees, with a theory based course followed by practical training. The results were good.

Nurse education continued to be by specialised schools, attached to hospitals. The General Nursing Council had since the 1950s been given responsibility for budget allocation, and the benefits of more educated nurses were becoming clear. The Briggs Report in 1972 established a clear direction of travel, with specialist nurse education apart from the hospital workforce becoming the norm, and recognition that research should form part of a nurse’s weltanschauung.

In 1986 the principle of nurse education being located within universities was established. This process was to take another three decades to complete, but it gives us a route back to the postcard. Nurse and midwife training at the London Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital merged in 1994, coinciding with the merger of the hospitals as a unified NHS trust, to create the St Bartholomew’s School of Nursing and Midwifery. And in 1995 this new school was incorporated into City, University of London. I joined City in 1997 and spent many happy hours working with colleagues from the School of Nursing and Midwifery on programme approval and review. Oh, to be young once more.

Back to the card. I’m afraid I can’t read the – possibly cross-stich – motto on the wall. The original image is too grainy to magnify. I’d speculate that the arms, legs and torsos are to teach bandaging, but somebody out there may know better. The card has not been sent, so I can’t date it, but judging by design and typeface on the back I’d say it was from the 1920s.

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