The history of ministerial workforce policy and planning in British nursing, 1939-1960
This thesis examines the government's tripartite approach to workforce policy and planning in British nursing from 1939 until 1960. Emerging histories have placed emphasis on the ministries and their effect upon the development of nursing. However, there remains no examination of their distinctive and interrelated roles in managing nursing workforce policy and planning, This thesis examines the contribution of three of these ministries from initial workforce involvement in the early 1940s, through to the 1950s and the advent of the Committee on Senior Nursing Staff Structure (the Salmon Report). It concludes that three distinct roles emerged from each of the ministries. The Ministry of Labour and National Service (MLNS) dealt with nurse recruitment, the Ministry of Health addressed retention through conditions of service, while the Colonial Office represented replenishment. Such division of ministerial roles and any limited collaboration, however, did not appear to be a part of any conscious workforce policy. The thesis argues that although the Ministry of Health and the MLNS viewed nursing as less prestigious than a traditional profession, strategies appealing to nurses' aspirations were used to promote a sense of professional value in an occupation of many countervailing tensions. Nursing appeared to occupy its own unique space between professions and industrial labour. i The post-war management of the nursing workforce emerges as a highly reactive policy, focusing upon diverse groups for recruitment. It covered the use of part-time nurses to fit into the social expectations of post-war women, the recruitment of male nurses and a manipulation of colonial legislation to the clear benefit of British nursing. Nurse shortages are explored against government unease in the immediate post-war period with the effects of increasing colonial immigration of black workers, which was uncontrolled due to their status as British subjects. The ultimate inadequacy of workforce policies in nursing to deal with the recruitment of black nurses remains a current and controversial workforce issue.