When war broke out 100 years ago, the owner of Morden Hall Park, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild, offered the Hall to the War Office for use as a military hospital. This year, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Attic Theatre Company brings the untold stories of the men and women who lived, worked and nursed at Morden Hall Park to life in Fields Unsown, a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

William Chapple’s Speeches In Parliament On The Subject Of The Registration And Training Of Nurses

12 February 1914

Dr Chapple asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to instances of the abuse of nurses’ uniforms during the past few months; and whether he will give his support to a Bill for the State registration of nurses in order to meet this and other evils that are leading to the scarcity of nurses in the ranks of the profession?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department, Mr McKenna: During the past few months my attention has not been called to any case of the kind. The police will make inquiry, but so far as they are aware such cases are of very rare occurrence. Recent Bills on the subject of the Registration of Nurses have not touched on this matter, and there would be serious difficulties in framing any provision of the nature suggested. I cannot make any promise with regard to a Bill.

30 March 1914

Dr Chapple asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state what precautions are taken by the Labour Exchanges in finding employment for nurses against sending to sick persons untrained, undertrained, or incompetent, and dangerous nurses; whether certificates of training at recognised hospitals are demanded by the Exchange before nurses are recommended for or found employment; what kind of certificates are recognised; what hospitals or institutions are deemed competent to issue certificates; and whether, if State registration and a public register of trained nurses would enable the Labour Exchanges to protect the sick against danger and imposition, he would favour legislation to this end?

Mr Burns: The function of the Labour Exchange is to place persons offering employment and those seeking it into communication with one another. It is for the prospective employer to decide as to the suitability or otherwise of the persons whom he desires to engage, and to indicate to the Exchange the nature of the qualifications required. It is no part of the function of the Labour Exchange to pronounce upon or to recognise the validity of certificates of any kind, but if an employer states that he requires applicants to possess a certificate of any particular kind, this, with all other available information, is notified to the applicants by the Exchange, and every effort is made to submit only those applicants who have the qualifications desired by the employer.

Dr Chapple: May I ask if a prospective employer requires a “trained nurse” and applies to an Exchange, how is that Exchange to determine whether a nurse requiring a situation is trained or not?

Mr Burns: The Labour Exchange superintendent would have to exercise his discretion on that point.

20 July 1914

Dr Chapple: asked the Secretary of State for War whether, under the Regulations of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, it is compulsory for a staff nurse or sister to hold a certificate of three years’ training in a recognised hospital?

Mr Tennant: Yes, Sir.

21 July 1914

Dr Chapple asked whether there is an ample supply of applicants to fill staff nursing vacancies in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service?

Mr Tennant: Yes, Sir, the supply is ample.

31 October 1916

Major Chapple asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the increasing urgency of enabling those in need of nurses to distinguish those who are fully trained from those who are not, and in recognition of the national work performed by nurses in the care of the sick and wounded, he will bring in a Bill on similar lines to the one submitted to him by the Central Committee for the State Registration of Nurses?

The Prime Minister:This is a highly controversial proposal, as my hon. Friend is aware, and I cannot at the present time undertake to introduce it.

31 July 1918

Major Chappleasked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the certificate of training presented in evidence of qualification by London Hospital nurses applying for posts in the Army service states that the nurse has had three years’ training in the hospital or only two years’ training?

Mr MacPherson: As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend on Thursday last, steps are always taken to ascertain that a nurse has completed the necessary period of training and service in the wards.

Sir C. Henry: Is there any differentiation in the nurses that come from the London Hospital and from the others?

Mr MacPherson: No, Sir.

Major Chapple: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he told us that a three years’ certificate of training is necessary for appointment to the Army Nursing Service, and I ask him in the present question, Does the London Hospital certificate of training say two years or three years?

Mr MacPherson: I cannot add anything to the answer I have given; but I would like to point out that the three years includes two years’ training, and one year’s service in the wards.

Major Chapple: Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that he told us, in reply to a question on 18th July, that time spent in private nursing is not allowed to count towards the qualifying period of three years? Does he tell us now that two years’ training is all that is necessary in the hospital, and that the time spent in private nursing makes up the period?

Mr MacPherson: Certainly; I am within the recollection of the House. My answer was, “We are satisfied in every case with the nurse who comes from the London Hospital or any other hospital if she has completed the necessary period of training, and service in the ward.”

Major Chapple: May I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the previous reply; will he explain the discrepancy in the two replies?

Mr Speaker: The right hon. Gentleman has explained.

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