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Who cared for the carers?A history of the occupational health of nurses, 1880-1948$
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Debbie Palmer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090875

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090875.001.0001

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The Nurses’ Registration Act, 1919

The Nurses’ Registration Act, 1919

(p.71) 3 The Nurses’ Registration Act, 1919
Who cared for the carers?

Debbie Palmer

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the Nurses’ Registration Act of 1919. This is an important episode in the history of the health of nurses because it was an opportunity for state legislation to regulate nurses’ work conditions. Early twentieth-century nurse leaders predicted that they would be able to stipulate conditions once professional status had been achieved. They reasoned that if nurses were better educated and more highly trained then improvements to economic conditions would follow. Yet their prediction failed to materialise, and although asylum nurses achieved standardised work conditions by 1919, voluntary hospital nurses’ work remained unregulated despite the award of professional status. This chapter questions why nurse organisations failed to achieve improvements revealing their attitudes towards the regulation of work conditions and the treatment of nurses’ health.

Keywords:   Nurses’ Registration Act, 1919, State legislation, Nurses’ work conditions, Nurses’ health, Nurse leaders

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