Obituary: Winifred Morgan

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The Independent Culture
WINIFRED MORGAN was the only British nurse to be awarded the Star of Ethiopia by Emperor Haile Selassie for her work in Africa. She had a distinguished nursing career in teaching hospitals in London, Glasgow and Manchester and with the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross.

Born in 1914, she was determined as a child to be a nurse, although there was no nursing tradition in her family - her father, a chauffeur, set up his own taxi business. Both parents died when Winifred was 11 and her sister seven. Thereafter the sisters were brought up separately, Winifred by an aunt and uncle in London, and it may have been the disciplinarian aunt which produced in Winifred Morgan the disciplinarian attitude of the senior nurse.

As a girl Morgan worked hard towards her goal, won a scholarship to Queen Anne's School, Caversham, and when she left trained as a nurse at King's College Hospital, London, then as a midwife at Sussex Maternity Hospital, in Brighton. She then returned to King's, which she always referred to with a fierce pride. This was not always appreciated by colleagues when she moved on to Scotland and the north of England.

At King's she became involved in nurse education and was in charge of the preliminary training school, something then new in nurse education. In 1949 she went to Edinburgh as sister tutor at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children but left after a year "for domestic reasons". The following year she was appointed principal sister tutor at the General Hospital, Jersey, to reorganise the nursing school and establish the block system of training, another innovation in nurse education. She left to take a course in nursing administration and had a brief period in management as an assistant matron at Guy's Hospital, in London.

Her next post was a pioneering one in nursing education, as director of the experimental training course at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, introduced by the matron, E.G. Manners. It was a brave task for an outsider from England to undertake. Nurses in training were to be real students and not part of the hospital staff, although they worked on the wards. There they had clinical supervision from tutors. If they had been on night duty, they did not have to wake up by day to attend lectures. They were prepared for the state examination in two years instead of the usual three and then had a third year of practical experience before state registration.

The experiment was sponsored by the Scottish Health Department and the Nuffield Trust and one of the objectives was to cut down the wastage of nurses leaving during training. Of the first 75 taking the course, only two dropped out. The course was evaluated by Margaret Scott Wright, who became the first professor of nursing in the UK, at Edinburgh University.

At the suggestion of the retiring matron of the Royal Infirmary at Manchester, Jean Wylie, who, like Morgan, had trained at King's, Morgan applied for the post and was appointed. She was matron at Manchester from 1961 to 1969. In 1967 she went to Iraq for the British Council and Manchester Royal Infirmary agreed to participate in a training scheme for Iraqi nurses. At Manchester, what was conceived to be her superior "southern" attitude was not always appreciated by the northerners, however.

After she left the infirmary, Morgan expanded her international career. She surveyed the International Committee of the Red Cross's dispensaries in the Dhaka area in Bangladesh, as World Heath Organisation consultant (1969-74) presided at the nurses' graduation ceremony at Ludhiana Hospital in India, was invited to take up a senior appointment at the new teaching hospital in Amman, Jordan, and for a brief period was director of the International Council of Nurses.

Winifred Florence Morgan, nurse: born London 26 December 1914; died Reigate, Surrey 5 January 1999.

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