Language Paper 2 – Florence Nightingale’s Letter to the Times Newspaper, 1860

Florence Nightingale achieved lasting admiration for her work as a nurse in the Crimean War of the 1850s. This is the same war that witnessed The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Here, she makes a nationwide appeal for the role of nursing to be given its proper respect and prominence. Kind of like today!

250px-Florence_Nightingale_1920_reproductionThe beginning has been made, the first crusade
has been fought and won, to bring real nursing,
trained nursing to the bedsides of cases wanting
real nursing among the London sick poor, in the
only way in which real nurses can be so brought
to the sick poor, and this by providing a real home within reach of their work for the nurses to live in – a home which gives what real family homes are supposed to give:- materially, a bedroom for each, dining and sitting rooms in common, all meals prepared and eaten in the home; morally, direction, support, sympathy in a common work, further training and instruction in it, proper rest and recreation, and a head of the home, who is also and pre-eminently trained and skilled head of the nursing.

Nursing requires the most undivided attention of
anything I know, and all the health and strength
both of mind and body. The very thing that we
find in these poor sick is that they lose the feeling
of what it is to be clean. The district nurse has
to show them their room clean for once; in other
words, to do it herself; to sweep and dust away,
to empty and wash out all the appalling dirt and
foulness; to air and disinfect; rub the windows,
sweep the fireplace, carry out and shake the bits
of old sacking and carpet, and lay them down
again; fetch fresh water and fill the kettle; wash
the patient and the children, and make the bed.
Every home she has thus cleaned has always
been kept so. She found it a pigsty, she left it a
tidy, airy room.


The present Association wants to foster the spiritCU6AwyAWwAERO3v
of work (not relief) in the district nurse, and for her to foster the same in her sick poor.
If a hospital must first of all be a place which shall do the sick no harm, how much more must the sick poor’s room be made a place not to render impossible recovery from the sickness which it has probably bred? This is what the London District Nurses do; they nurse the room as well as the patient, and teach the family to nurse the room. Hospitals are but an intermediate stage of civilization. At present, hospitals are the only place where the sick poor can be nursed, or, indeed, often the sick rich. But the ultimate object is to nurse all sick at home.


The district nurse costs money, and the district
homes cost money. Each district nurse must
have, before she is qualified:

  1. a month’s trial in district work;
    2. a year’s training in hospital nursing;
    3. three months’ training in district nursing, under
    the Superintendant-General.

hospitalsoldiers1aFor anything like a “National,” or even a “Metropolitan” concern, a capital of £20,000 and an income of £5,000 a year are wanted. Of this
a great part is wanted at once, to set on foot three district homes; to pay and maintain their superintendents, nurses, and probationers; to create a hospital training school in which to train.
What has been done at present is to establish one district home under the charge and training of Miss Florence Lees, as Superintendent-General,
with five hospital trained nurses and three nurse candidates, and to carry on the previously existing work of the East London Nursing Society with six nurses.

The Central Home was opened at 23,
Bloomsbury-Square, in December last, the nursing
work having been begun in the neighbourhood
from a temporary abode, in July. The Nightingale
Training School at St Thomas’s Hospital is at
present giving the year’s hospital training to six, to
be increased to 12, admitted candidates.
I ask the public not to add one more charity or
relief agency to the many that are already, but
to support a charity—truly “metropolitan” in its
scope, and truly “national” if carried out—which
never has been before.