Nursing and Social Change

Nursing and Social Change

Nursing and Social Change

Nursing and Social Change


Nursing and Social Changeis essential reading for nurses who wish to understand how their profession had developed from its earliest beginnings to the present day. Now in its third edition the book has been completely revised to take into account the challenges facing nurses. Ten new chapters include contributions from senior members of the nursing profession who have been closely involved in the most recent health service reorganisation and the radical changes to nurse education.

Students and practitioners will find Nursing and Social Changeinvaluable as a comprehensive source of reference which offers a unique combination of scholarship and readability.


It is twenty years since the first edition of Nursing and Social Change was published. It was designed to supplement lectures for students doing Part A of the Diploma in Nursing, as the syllabus was at that time. The expanded second edition, published thirteen years ago, was designed to meet the defects of the first and to meet the needs of a wider group of post-registration students. If a week is a long time in politics, thirteen years is an aeon in the National Health Service at the present time and inevitably some of the later material is out of date. In order to meet this need, Routledge have agreed to publish an updated third edition of the book originally published by Heinemann.

The scheme of the book, which traced social change in each period and the new health needs it produced, then examined how these needs were met and is still valid. Students need to keep a historical perspective or they are in danger of what E.P. Thompson describes as ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’. With the exception of the chapter on Florence Nightingale, which has been rewritten in the light of new research, the first half of the book has been left more or less intact.

It is the second half that presents the challenge. To quote from the first edition:

the development of nursing is like weaving a cloth with social change as the warp and, running to and fro with the weft is the shuttle of care… only by tracing the threads to their historical origin can we begin to understand the confusion and profusion of the health services in the twentieth century.

In the past thirteen years the shuttle has moved faster than ever and we have been subjected to more change than we can comfortably tolerate. Because change has been so profound, we have recruited other contributors to deal with specialised areas. It is hoped that with a comprehensive basic training students will cease to think about nursing in separate compartments, but some specialisation is inevitable and this book is designed to cover the needs of post-registration students.

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