Maude Storey

Nurses' leader in a time of change
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The Independent Online

Maude Storey, nurse: born Wigan, Lancashire 24 March 1930; Registrar, GNC for England and Wales 1977-81; Registrar and Chief Executive, UKCC 1981-87; President, Royal College of Nursing 1986-90; CBE 1987; died Reading, Berkshire 29 March 2003

Maude Storey was a nursing leader who brought a human face to nurses' registration bodies as their chief officer and to the Royal College of Nursing as its president, and had an unlimited stock of Wigan jokes. She was an able, approachable administrator, a chocolate lover, very large – and a beautiful dancer; she urged nurses to widen their horizons by reading The Economist, the New Statesman and The Spectator.

The daughter of a miner, Storey was born in Wigan, in 1930, and educated at Wigan and District Mining and Technical College. As a teenager she gave up being a typist to train as a nurse at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, because she had a crush on a boy who was working in Manchester. But she never married. After completing her general training at Manchester and Lancaster Royal Infirmary, she went to London to qualify as a midwife.

She returned to Wigan as a domiciliary midwife in 1953 and was theatre sister and clinical instructor at Wigan Infirmary from 1959 to 1968. A founder member of a local group to help the homeless in Wigan, she was a governor of a local school for mentally handicapped children and a member of Wigan Health Authority.

Back in Manchester, she was one of the tutors on England's first graduate course for nurses. The idea of student nurses' being undergraduates did not meet with universal approval: their training was carried out not at Manchester's teaching hospital, St Mary's, but the less prestigious Crumpsall Hospital.

Storey's involvement in the new ideas in nurse education was a sound basis for the climax to her career as the last registrar of the General Nursing Council (GNC) of England and Wales and the first chief executive of its successor regulatory body, the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC). Before this she had been regional nursing officer for Mersey Regional Health Authority.

She was not an agent of change but she managed the ideas of others. She was good at bringing people together and readily assumed responsibility. This was the leadership needed when the profession was undergoing change with the Project 2000 concept of nurse education and the replacement of the registration bodies, which had controlled the nursing profession since state registration was introduced after the First World War, by a Britain-wide council uniting nursing, midwifery and health visiting. In setting up the new body she put her firm administrative stamp on its proceedures. In her days the ordinary nurse could always get through on the phone to the professional body, which has not always been the case since the UKCC itself has been replaced by yet another authority.

Always active in the Royal College of Nursing, Storey became its President in 1986 and at the end of her two-year term was re-elected. At the college's annual congresses she was a focus for the younger nurses. She undertook extensive international work in Europe, the Middle East and South Africa, frequently for the World Health Organisation. She was a member of the International Council of Nurses group on nursing legislation.

Her retirement activities included being a non-executive director of Berkshire Health Authority, chairing the West Berkshire Research Ethics Committee, and serving as a member of the council of Reading University. Suffering from diabetes, she organised the programme of her local Reading branch of Diabetes, UK.

A Methodist, Storey was a committed Christian. At the Royal College of Nursing's 1996 congress service she said the influence of the move towards a materialistic and humanist view of life was all too evident in the running of the NHS, on the healthcare professions and on those who turned to them for care. "Standards of respect for others, mutual trust and willing service have been drastically eroded," she declared. "Honesty and integrity have declined."

Maude Storey was great fun, whilst always being dignified. She took a course in creative writing but never published any of her compositions, which was a pity. She was a distinguished speaker and had done some amateur acting. Memorable was her rendition of "Albert and the Lion", in broad Lancashire.

Laurence Dopson