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Saturday 22nd October 2016

A plea for district nursing

22nd October 2009

Writing for OnMedica Bristol GP Dan Brett, the practice-based commissioning lead for his practice, makes a plea to primary care trusts not to dismantle the District Nurse Service.


Within our primary health care team, there is only one group of clinicians that provide a service for 365 days a year.

District nurses, ‘megalomaniacs with no delusions of wealth, power or omnipotence,’ consistently provide outstanding care and seem able to cope with whatever is thrown at them.

Their leader, a nurse for 45 years, is Meg.

She has spawned a new language within the practice. To be “Megged” is to be visited at home and the “Meg-ometer” is an accurate screening tool of how ill a patient is.

District nursing began 150 years ago when Liverpool philanthropist William Rathbone employed a nurse named Mary Robinson to help care for his wife at home when she was ill.

After her death in 1859, he engaged Mary to go into the poorest districts of the city to offer healthcare to people who had no means to pay for it.

From there, Rathbone helped build up the service, aided by among others Florence Nightingale. In time the Liverpool model was copied elsewhere.

However, today, the primary care trust is now reviewing our District Nurse Service.

Let’s hope it will not have to be left to philanthropists, once more, to recognise and fund this invaluable part of the NHS.


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