The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) commemorated its 100th anniversary on 27 March 2016.
The RCN began as the College of Nursing, which was founded in 1916 by Sarah Swift, Matron in Chief of the British Red Cross. The college was founded with just 34 members, and was awarded its ‘Royal’ title in 1939 by King George VI in recognition of its work in the preparation for the Second World War. Queen Elizabeth II became the RCN’s official patron in 1953.
‘Reaching our centenary is incredibly exciting and offers a great opportunity to look back on just how far the nursing profession has come,’ said Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN. ‘The journey over the past 100 years is really quiet remarkable. We are so proud to have represented some of the most caring, hardworking staff who have touched the lives of so many people in Britain.
At first, the RCN was a strictly all-female organisation, admitting its first male member in 1960. The organisation is known for its pay campaigns, including the Pay Not Peanuts’ protests in 1979. The organisation expanded its boundaries to include health care assistants first in 2001. The RCN then campaigned to make nursing an all degree-qualified profession in 2013, and successfully sought to put nursing staff on the Shortage Occupation List in 2015.
‘I know I’m biased but nursing is one of the most important professions in the world and this is our opportunity to celebrate each and every member of the nursing workforce – past and present,’ added Ms Davies.