Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

By the 20s, transport for nurses has gone up a gear.  Literally.

In 1920, Nurse Radburn of Swanscombe was provided with a motor cycle by the people of her district.

In the Queen’s Nurses’ Magazine, adverts for scooters, motocycles and motorcycle attachments began to appear. 

Things weren’t changing everywhere though. On Exmoor a Queen’s Nurse still was visiting her patients on horseback in the 1930s!  And as for the West of Ireland, things were even more behind the times there.  An expectant father might still be expected to pick up a nurse on horseback, bringing a spare mount for the return journey!  Nurses were writing in to the magazine about their uniform, complaining that they needed tighter hats to stay on their heads in high winds.


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DNs cover a lot of ground today.  They did in the past too!

Let’s take for an example Nurse Jenny Wolfe, a Gloucestershire DN, from June to December in 1897.  In her donkey cart, she travelled 1294 miles – an average of 185 miles a month.  Her local organisation provided her and its other DNs with bikes in 1900, but even these were not enough to cover the ground between rural patients homes.

A report from the Queen’s Nursing Institute in 1892 states that ‘experience has shown that one nurse can efficiently nurse such a district within a radius of from three to four miles of her home, where a donkey cart is provided…Where a vehicle is provided, one nurse is sufficient for every 2500 to 3000 of the population.’

So district nurses of today, the minute you got cars, they decided to work you even harder.  It’s enough to make you long for a donkey!

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‘My work extended over a radius of about two miles, and there was a dear little Welsh pony for me to drive.  My ‘Tommy’ soon became well known, for he was to be found tied to fences and gates in all of the many roads, for often it was only possible to drive to within half a mile or more of many of the outlying villages, especially in winter.’

A Kent District Nurse, Queen’s Nurses’ Magazine, August 1905.

In their cars today, district nurses can cover far greater distances than this nurse and her pony’s two mile radius!  But is this necessarily a good thing?

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