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Ethel Gordon Fenwick (Hardback)

Nursing Reformer and the First Registered Nurse

WWII P&S History Social History Women of History 20th Century 19th Century

By Jenny Main
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Series: Trailblazing Women
Pages: 200
Illustrations: 21 mono
ISBN: 9781399099585
Published: 30th June 2022


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RRP £20.00

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A great nursing reformer, Ethel Gordon Fenwick was born before the age of the motor car and died at the start of the jet age. When she began her career, nursing was a vocation, unregulated with a dangerous variety of standards and inefficiencies. A gifted nurse, Ethel worked alongside great medical men of the day and, aged 24, she became the youngest matron of St Bartholomew’s hospital London, where she instigated many improvements. At that time, anyone could be called a nurse, regardless of ability. Ethel recognised that for the safety of patients, and of nurses, there must be an accepted standard of training, with proof of qualification provided by a professional register.

Often contentious, Ethel was a determined woman. She fought for nearly thirty years to achieve a register to ensure nurses were qualified, respected professionals. A suffragist and journalist, she travelled to America where she met like-minded nursing colleagues. As well as helping to create the International Council of Nurses, and the Royal British Nurses Association, she was also instrumental in organising nurses and supplies during the Graeco-Turkish War, and was awarded several medals for this work. Thanks to her long campaign for registration, a year after her death nurses were ready to take their place alongside other professionals when the National Health Service began in 1948.

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About Jenny Main

After obtaining her State Registration for Nursing at University College Hospital, London, circumstances took Jenny Main to Elgin, Moray, where she worked for many years in Dr. Gray’s hospital, Elgin. After injury forced her retirement, she became interested in local history and her District Nursing Officer suggested she write a short pamphlet about the unknown and unsung local celebrity, Ethel Fenwick. Of necessity, a pamphlet evolved into a small book! However, in 2002 a severe flood event in Elgin disrupted the final editing; the book was published locally, but felt unfinished. Since then, Jenny has written several local history books and was encouraged by nursing colleagues and members of the Ethel Gordon Fenwick Commemorative Project to revise and to introduce Ethel, her life, her times and her achievements to a much wider public at a time when the importance of the nursing profession is appreciated more than ever.

Perfect Partner

The District Nurse A Pictorial History (Paperback)

For 150 years, up and down the country, from large cities to rural areas and the remotest islands and highlands, district nurses have been visiting the sick in their own homes. Here they have provided healthcare, and given moral support and advice to people of all ages the length and breadth of Britain. Follow the story of how, in the 1860s, the Liverpool philanthropist William Rathbone VI set up an experiment in home nursing in his home city, aimed at providing care for the poor who had no access to proper medical attention. His scheme resulted in the establishment of district nursing as a profession,…

By Susan Cohen

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