"The weakest link in the chain of nursing"? : recruitment and retention in mental health nursing, 1948-1968

Chatterton, CS 2007, "The weakest link in the chain of nursing"? : recruitment and retention in mental health nursing, 1948-1968 , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

This thesis examines recruitment and retention in mental health nursing in England between 1948 and 1968. Its first objective is to explore the explanations that were given for the severe shortage of mental nurses that occurred in this period. The study will look at the official views on this topic, such as those of politicians, civil servants, senior nurses, psychiatrists, union leaders and administrators. It will also discuss the views of mental nurses themselves as to why this occurred. The second objective is to analyse the strategies that were adopted in an attempt to improve both recruitment and retention in this period. Primary archival sources are examined to explore these research questions. Secondary sources and thirteen oral history interviews also contribute to this thesis and enable the argument to be placed both within the history of nursing and of psychiatry. This thesis makes an original contribution to the history of mental health nursing in the first two decades of the National Health Service. The available literature suggests that poor pay. working conditions and low status were the main reasons why it was difficult to both recruit and retain mental health nurses in this period. However this PhD argues that the reasons are more complex than official explanations suggest and are often interrelated. A dissonance is found between the official explanations of the shortage (such as views at the Ministry of Health) and those at grass roots level. In addition the strategies that were adopted to improve recruitment and retention were found to have largely unsuccessful. It is argued that this was because of the difference between the image and ideal of the mental nurse which was promulgated by the Ministry of Health and the General Nursing Council (based on a scientific, sickness model of care) and the reality of mental nursing in the large institutions of this period, which was much more likely to have been mainly custodial, with only intermittent applications of new techniques and practices. Shortages in nursing remain a topical issue today and the study therefore utilises history to explore a subject that remains of contemporary concern.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Mitchell, D (Supervisor) and Lee, N-J (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2021 14:48
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:57
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/61575

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