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WW1: the rise of the VADs

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VAD nurses Nurses from the Voluntary Aid Detachment on the Western Front in France

Ethel Bedford Fenwick was the driving force behind nurse registration in 1919 (IN, 3 February).1 Her passionate belief in the need for comprehensive, standardised training and examination of nurses meant that she would settle for no less than a nationally defined training course and a single national register of all those who met the standards. To succeed in its aim, the register would have to be rigorously defined, and entry to it jealously guarded. The opposition to this approach, consisting of rival associations that were equally vocal and no less convinced of their position, kept the 'pro-registrationists' busy for 30 years. It also set them and Bedford Fenwick in direct opposition to one of the most popular and important social developments that came to public attention during World War One – the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

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