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A celebration of 50 years as a nurse in the NHS

A review of 'From SRN to CBE' by Mary Spinks

This book is the memoir of one of Britain's most prominent nurses, Mary Spinks, the director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation for nearly 15 years between 1996 and 2010, when she was awarded a CBE for her contributions to the field of nursing. Ms Spinks, nee Donn, begins her story in 1958, when she left Ireland to train as a nurse in the still novel NHS. I thought this was a fascinating passage, as the author elaborates on how nurse training has changed over 50 years. She describes it as being more akin to an apprenticeship, with new students learning from staff in hospitals from the very beginning of their training, with very little classroom teaching. She also states that in some cases, a night shift in a ward was done by just two students, with a qualified nurse only coming in to administer drugs, something that would not be considered safe staffing in current times.

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