Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Overseas nurses and Queen's english 1968

COHSE Conference 1968

Queen’s English resolution rejected by delegates

Resolution 125 Hellingly Hospital branch

The Conference, having regard to the difficulties of both patients and staff, agrees that representation be made to limit the employment of non-

English speaking nursing staff (particularly student nurses). Employment of such staff should not exceed, say, 10 per cent in any hospital.

M. A. Taylor (Hellingly): moving

There is no colour bar in this resolution. We have coloured people at Hellingly, we take them into our stride, they are members of my organisation and we welcome them if they can speak the Queen's English. Some of the sisters have to ring round to other wards to get somebody who can speak French and English to interpretate to girls to tell them what to do.


We have 24 Spanish orderlies, 39 French nursing assistants and 17 French student nurses out of a total staff of 280. What we want is 10%. That is ten in a hundred, 28 not 80.

A. L. Ruler (Maidstone) seconded:

I purchased a paper last night and in this paper was a case of three student nurses from Hellingly Hospital. They were prosecuted for an offence which is nothing to do with us, but the report said they were asked to pay four guineas interpreter's fees. Now I ask you, how on earth can one employ people in a mental hospital with mental patients when they have no idea whatsoever of one word of English?


Mrs. M. L. White (Colchester): I was a foreigner 14 years ago with not a word of English. We had lots of reports in the hospital where I was first working, of' complaints in the newspapers, but the answer one of the Scottish doctors offered I thought was marvellous. She thought we had the most wonderful look because no matter what the patient said, no matter how the patient swore, we were always smiling.

If you are going to review foreign nurses coming into this country, what are you going to put in their place? I hear remarks from the patients themselves: "I like foreign nurses." Not very often you hear that they dislike foreign nurses.

Peter Owusu (Charge nurse at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, Kent)

I would like to tell delegates that the sentiments which I have heard 'during the Conference from Monday up to the present time will remain in the annals of my life. I will carry back home to Ghana the message that they should not think British people are racialist. They are not, but there is an element of political flavour in this resolution.


If the mover of this motion spoke of inadequacy or of those who have not control of the English language I would understand it. Before student nurses are employed they are given a form to fill and their academic qualifications are put in, and English language is one of the prominent things required. We shouldn't allow a political arena to spring out of this thing.

Resolution Lost.