06 February 2018

Incredible women leaving their mark on history

With 79% of our employees female and a majority female board, at Newcross it is hard to imagine a society where women were not equals. But today marks 100 years since women were given the right to vote.

The Representation of the People Act 1918 enabled 8.4 million women to vote, however this was only 40% of women. It wasn’t until 10 years later, in 1928, when all women over the age of 21 were allowed to vote.

Thousands of brave women, including the three Pankhurst’s, Emmeline and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, put their lives and freedom at risk to fight for the right to vote and today we celebrate their incredible struggle to get the vote. To recognise this impressive achievement we are taking a look at two women who well and truly left their mark on healthcare history.

Florence Nightingale [1820-1910]

The founder of modern nursing, Florence went against everything and everyone to fulfil her dream to become a nurse. During the 1800s hospitals were dirty and operations were completed without anaesthetic, most people who went to hospital ended up dying. In 1951 Florence studied to nursing and decided then that it was her calling.

Florence was asked to lead a team of nurses to support British soldiers in the Crimean War.  But when she arrived the hospital was overcrowded, dirty and patients ate gone off food - nothing was clean.

“It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm.” 

Working 20 hours a day, Florence bought fresh food, cleaned kitchens, cleared drains and helped to stop the spread of disease. She became known as the ‘Lady with the Lamp’, as she used to walk around at night to make sure the soldiers were comfortable.

“She is a "ministering angel" without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow's face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.”

Welcomed home a hero, Florence’s work throughout the Crimean War transformed modern nursing, improving the quality of care given in war and impacting healthcare practices around the world. This is reflected throughout Newcross, from our nurse-led Complex Care team to our Clinical Governance Nurse Advisors. Expertise and quality is at our core.

[There have been conflicting accounts regarding Florence Nightingale's nursing, we'd love to hear your view on her and her work, drop us an email at communications@newcrosshealthcare.com]

Marie Skłodowska Curie [1897-1934]

Another strong and determined woman was Marie Skłodowska Curie, remembered for her contribution to the fight against cancer, Marie’s work on radioactivity was driven by her endless thirst for knowledge.

After meeting her husband, Pierre in France, together they made discoveries which earned them a Nobel Prize in 1903. Their work discovered radioactivity, through this it led them to discover polonium and radium. These chemical elements helped to develop radiotherapy which is used in x-rays.

Sadly Pierre was killed after a street accident, but Marie’s determination and remarkable endeavours led to a second Nobel Prize in 1911, this time in chemistry for creating a means of measuring radioactivity. She was the first woman in history to win it. During the First World War, Marie developed small, mobile X-ray units that could be used to diagnose injuries near the front line.

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."

Without women like Marie and Florence healthcare would not be where it is today, it is the determination and drive that enabled them to leave their mark on history. If you want to make an impact on people's lives join our Newcross team, where we help improve people's quality of life day in and day out.