Sarah Rogers, Strategic Lead for General Practice Nurses (GPN) discusses her journey to becoming a Queen’s Nurse

September 26, 2023, dawned like any other morning in September but it was about to become extraordinary for me. I had set up my home office and created my ‘to do’ list for the day which involved a mixture of meetings, teaching, and last-minute organisation for the next day’s Annual Conference for General Practice Nursing.  I had, back in May, applied to become a Queen’s Nurse and had been waiting for an email to inform me whether I had been successful. An email popped into my inbox from the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) and I geared myself up for the ‘sorry please try again’ email, knowing how difficult it is to become part of this prestigious group of Nurses. Much to my surprise and delight I had been accepted. For me as a primary care nurse who is passionate about her profession and raising the profile of primary care nursing, this provides formal recognition for my commitment to improving care for our patients in Gloucestershire.

What Is a Queen’s Nurse?

A Queen’s Nurse is committed to high standards of practice and patient-centred care. The Queen’s Nurse supports innovation and best practice, to improve care for patients.  To be a Queen’s nurse is to belong to a community of like-minded nurses who work in the community, sharing common values as well as a title.

The History

In 1859, a Liverpool Merchant and philanthropist William Rathbone employed nurse Mary Robinson to nurse his wife, Lucretia Wainwright Gair, at home during her final illness. After the death of his wife, Rathbone employed Mary to ‘nurse’ others in the community who could not afford medical care. Further to this, in 1880, Elizabeth Malleson, an educationalist, suffragist and activist for women’s education and rural nursing, from Gotherington, Gloucestershire was concerned that the poorer, rurally isolated population had no access to midwifery or nursing care. She set up an appeal that raised funds for these nurses which became the start of organised district nursing.

In 1887, the women of Britain raised a ‘jubilee fund’ to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Florence Nightingale and William Rathbone joined forces and submitted a plan to Queen Victoria to urge her to spend money on nursing and so, the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Institute Division was born, with the Queen herself as Patron – this institute later became known as The Queen’s institute of District Nursing until 1973.

The title ‘Queen’s Nurse’ was given to the first nurse who was trained at the Queen’s Nursing Institute however, the institute no longer provides training for nurses although it continues to provide both professional support and opportunities for development.

After a gap of almost 40 years, in 2007, the QNI re-instated the title of Queen’s Nurse to safeguard and promote high standards in patient care. In Gloucestershire in 2019, 33 of our community nurses held the title Queen’s Nurse (this includes primary care nurses).

Requirements for becoming a Queen’s Nurse include:

  • Working for a minimum of five years in a primary care or community care setting
  • Currently working in England, Wales, Northern Ireland , the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man with people in their own homes/community settings/education
  • Submitting an 800-word reflective piece of writing demonstrating meeting the values of a Queen’s Nurse
  • Reflection about contribution and commitment to the Queen’s nurse network ( 500 words)
  • Explaining a vision for the future based on health and social care related issues that would reduce inequality and improve outcomes for individuals, families, carers and communities (800 words)

I am beyond proud to call myself a Queen’s Nurse and highly recommend any other GPN or Community nurse to consider applying.  I will be attending a ceremony in London on December 13 to collect my award and badge. This will also give me the opportunity to meet ‘my Queen’s Nurse alumni’ for 2023 and start making those connections to share projects, offer support and discuss innovative ways of working.