|Imperial War Museum: Army/Training 25/10|
As part of a transcription of the General Nursing Council Register (England and Wales) for 1928, I've compiled a list of male nurses who were included on a separate part of the Register. In today's NHS male nurses are so numerous and prominent that there are a great many people who don't remember a time when they were virtually absent from general nursing, so I thought it would be interesting to post some details of those few who were employed in the role more than ninety years ago. In 1928 there were over 40,000 trained female nurses included by the GNC on the general part of the Register, and separate sections for fever nurses, children's nurses, mental nurses and male nurses. Although the names of several thousand men can be found in the section for mental nurses, there were just two hundred considered qualified as 'general' trained male nurses. Inclusion in any of these categories was subject to stringent conditions laid down by the GNC which varied from section to section and male nurses had to satisfy the following conditions to be included on the roll of 'Male Nurses':
(a) A certificate that the applicant has had not less than three years' training before the 1st November, 1919, in a Hospital or Institution approved by the Council for the training of male nurses, or evidence that he has had not less than three years' training before the date aforesaid, as a male nurse in the service of the Admiralty, the Army Council or the Air Council, or that as to part of the period aforesaid, he has had training as a male nurse in such Hospital or Institution, and as to the remainder, training as a male nurse in such service as aforesaid;
(b) Evidence that the applicant has had not less than one year's training in a Hospital or Institution approved by the Council for the training of male nurses, or evidence that he has had not less than one year's training as a male nurse in the service of the Admiralty, Army Council or the Air Council, accompanied by evidence in either case that he has subsequently been bona fide engaged in practice as a male nurse in the attendance on the sick for not less than two years before the 1st November, 1919.
In addition, in common with female nurses, those who started their training after 1922 were required to pass a written and practical examination.
Of the two hundred men named as registered general nurses active in 1928, roughly three-quarters had received their nurse training in military hospitals, having previously served in either the Royal Army Medical Corps, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force Medical Service or the Indian Medical Service. The majority of these men received their training prior to the First World War, some as early as the 1880s, and no doubt most were actively engaged with the military medical forces in wartime. In two cases the training was split between the pre-war and post-war periods which maybe suggests that their wartime service was with some other corps or regiment of the army.
Of the total number, 133 men qualified on the basis of holding a certificate of three years' training, while the others had a variety of training and experience that met with the conditions in paragraph (b) above. The remaining forty-six men provide an interesting insight as to which civil hospitals and institutions in England were actively training men as general nurses at that time and are as follows:
Hackney Hospital and Infirmary: 18
H.M. Prison, Parkhurst: 10
National Hospital, Queen Square, London: 8
Bradford, Municipal General/St. Luke's Hospitals: 7
Erdington Infirmary, Birmingham: 1
New End Hospital, London: 1
Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading: 1
It seems apparent from the addresses given that Parkhurst held responsibility for training men for the nursing service in prisons across the country, and understandable that the National Hospital, Queen Square, needed male nurses when its official title at that time was 'The National Hospital for the Relief and Cure of the Paralysed and Epileptic.' As for the rest, it seems likely that one or two solitary men qualified on the basis of their experience in Birmingham and Reading. However, there did seem to be a definite aim at both Hackney and Bradford to offer formal general nurse training for men both pre and post-war and who, after 1922, were qualifying by examination and not simply on the basis of previous experience.
By 1942 the number of general trained male nurses had increased slowly, but still only stood at about 600 nationally (England and Wales). A brief check shows that the same hospitals were still prominent in training men for the general register, but that's for a future project!