By Lynn McDonald, co-founder
Events in April-May 2019
People will doubtless have taken part in something at least around the time of May 12. More is in the planning for next year!
The Nightingale Society met (as well as March 20, at Lea Hurst) on April 12, 2019
At the Royal Statistical Society, chaired by Eileen Magnello. We reviewed plans for the Bicentenary celebration in 2020. We had an interesting exhibition of Nightingale late memorabilia, thanks to a descendant of Nightingale’s last “lady companion” We had a report by Dave Green, Partners 2020 (the wider Bicentenary network) on the numerous plans in process by its various members.
Nightingale Lecture on Statistics, Oxford University, April 30, 2019.
Sir David Spiegelhalter, FRS, former president of the Royal Statistical Society, gave this annual lecture at Oxford, “What would Florence Nightingale make of the way data is being used today? It was an excellent lecture, with material on her, and a fine presentation of her use of data for social reform purposes.
The Nightingale (annual) lecture at Oxford is an example of what the Nightingale Society is promoting: some annual recognition (not just in 2020), on something she did well that is still of significance . This Oxford lecture is not normally ON Nightingale, and annual lectures on Nightingale (such as on best practice, or evidence-based nursing, or equitable access to health care) need not be.
The First Black Nurse in the NHS
In my lecture at King’s College, London (April 10, 2019), on Mary Seacole and Myths in the Nursing Profession, I presented some material on Nightingale nurse Kofoworola Abeni Pratt, the first black nurse in the NHS. Mrs “Rola” Pratt was an outstanding nursing leader who has been sadly neglected by the NHS and nursing leaders. Pratt did her nurse training at the Nightingale School, beginning in 1946, and was on duty at St Thomas’ when the NHS was launched in June 1948. Her record as a student was outstanding, and she went on to found professional nursing by Nigerians in her home country, Nigeria, and gave leadership in the International Council of Nurses and other organizations. Yet no one at the King’s lecture had heard of her! I did some more research on Pratt and her record – and am even more impressed. Anyone with any idea how to get recognition of this leading black minority ethnic nurse, please speak up! firstname.lastname@example.org
Please co-sign these letters
Herewith two letters to go for the Nightingale Society.
Please say if okay to co-sign on (the first letter would go as an attachment to the second). We earlier sent a letter to the minister proposing Pratt, go no answer, now are trying the NHS Leadership Academy, which is a problem in itself!
NHS Leadership Academy
Dear Dr Price-Dowd
We write with concern about the position you took, and your failure to provide reasons for it, in your article in the BJN “The changing face of nursing: from the pioneers to the future of leadership.” Your choices of leaders/pioneers are odd, and you failed to give references on points of fact. There is so much misinformation about Mary Seacole in circulation that it is difficult to get the facts right, but there are adequate primary sources.
1. Listing Seacole as the top choice of nursing leader/pioneer, without noting so much as one qualification: what nursing did she herself do? (apart from selling “herbal” remedies, which sometimes contained lead and/or mercury)? What hospital(s) did she nurse at? What books/articles on nursing did she write? What nurses did she train or mentor? We are aware of none.
2. Nightingale’s work is well known, and she was, would you not agree? the major founder of the profession. You describe her rather as “the person most people see as the epitome of the nurse,” but why not say what she did? Especially as you later address the qualities needed for leadership in the future. You state that she used “models and theories to influence others to make changes in health care.” We would say that she used evidence, well argued and illustrated, to influence decisions in health care.
Since your position is with the NHS Leadership Academy, it might be well to acknowledge that she was the first to call for the key components of the NHS, and that in 1866 and 1867! None of your other choices did anything close to what she did for the formation of the NHS.
3. We wonder about the choice of Edith Cavell as a nursing founder, when her life was tragically cut short. She deserves celebration for her courage and patriotism, but she had only a few years giving leadership in nursing when she was executed.
4. Kofoworola Abeni Pratt does deserve inclusion as a pioneer and founder, and it is time that the NHS Leadership Academy recognized her. Sadly, it seems still, as you yourself, more keen to repeat the misinformation of the Mary Seacole campaign than to provide credible BAME models for today’s nurses. You could start with Pratt! (See a backgrounder on her at nightingalesociety.com/backgrounders/8-kofoworola-abeni-pratt/.)
We urge you to go back to primary sources–much of the misinformation on Seacole can be seen to be wrong when her own memoir is consulted. The bicentenary of Nightingale’s life will be celebrated in 2020. We look to nursing leaders to make a positive contribution in crediting her for what she did. Celebrating Pratt, a Nigerian who chose to study nursing at the Nightingale School, is a fine example of Nightingale’s ongoing relevance–she inspired future leaders!
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Stephen Hart, managing director
NHS Leadership Academy
Dear Mr Hart
We wish to raise two matters with you, one positive, one negative, and ask a question.
The positive is the promotion of an outstanding nursing leader, Kofoworola Abeni Pratt (1915-92), the first black nurse in the NHS, who remains remarkably unknown and uncelebrated. We want to see her recognized, such as by the naming of a Leadership Award after her. We can send you a link detailing her accomplishments, and there is a fine biography available on her.
The negative is the continuing downgrading of the work of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the first person to articulate the vision that became the core principles of the NHS. This neglect is combined with misinformation (now going on for many years) of Mary Seacole, a fine and generous businesswoman and volunteer hospital visitor during the Crimean War, but who was not a pioneer nurse, nor ever claimed to be one.
We note the bizarre ranking of Seacole as the top pioneer/ leader, by Clare Price-Dowd, of the NHS Leadership Academy, in an article published in the British Journal of Nursing. Price-Dowd gave no achievements by Seacole to justify that ranking. A letter to her follows which sets out our concerns in detail.
We note that the NHS Leadership Academy has programmes named after Edward Jenner, Rosalind Franklin, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Nye Bevan, all well qualified for the honour. There is no nursing leader, however, but Mary Seacole is named as one, without good grounds. She has many noteworthy achievements, but can you name anything she did in hospital nursing herself, or training nurses, mentoring nurses, producing books or articles on nursing and effecting change for the better in the profession?
We note that the Bicentenary of Nightingale’s birth will be celebrated next year, and ask what the NHS Leadership Academy plans to do to for this celebration.. We would be happy to provide you with information on the importance of Nightingale’s vision and work towards making quality health care available to all, regardless of ability to pay.
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