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History of the Tamil Nadu Nurses & Midiwives Council

The Commencement of Military Nursing was the fore-runner for the formation of the Nursing Service in this State.

In 1664, the Governor's Council of Fort St. George wrote to the Agent of the East India Company in London that Englishmen dropped away for want of Christian Charity (Medical and Nursing Care) and he stressed the necessity of having a house (Hospital) in purpose for them, and people appointed to look after them.

At first Nursing Sisters were sent out for Military Hospitals. They worked with fellow soldiers for a time. The Military Hospitals worked under difficult circumstances for about two hundred years. The Madras Hospital continued to be a Joint Civil and Military institution.

The Government General Hospital, one of the premier Institutions in the country was started on 16th November 1664 as a small Hospital to treat the sick soldiers of the East India Company. It was the untiring inspired efforts of Sir Edward Winter who was the agent of the company that materialised in the first British Hospital at Madras. A transfer was effected in 1753 to the present General Hospital premises. A medallion on the wall of the present General Hospital bears the inscription "Hospital founded 1753".

Consequent on the formation of a Nursing Service by FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE at the time of the Crimean War 1854, reforms were brought about in the Army Nursing Service. Though she did not visit India she observed the conditions in the Military Hospitals, she made great efforts to collect information about the functioning of the Hospitals in India. Her accurate knowledge of the conditions in the Hospitals was very remarkable. Based on the answers compiled from her "Circular of Enquiry", the Royal Sanitary Commission on the Health of the Army in India was appointed in 1859.

After a long delay, the Commission presented its report. Their work inevitably led reforms in Civil Hospitals and efforts were made to provide a health service for all the people of India, particularly for those in the Madras Presidency. As a result, a Lying-in Hospital was built in 1797 with the help of subscription by Dr.John Underwood for the poor of Madras. It was in this Institution that in 1854 the Government sanctioned the opening of the first training school of Midwives. The accommodation for the patients was 150 beds (Women). The certificate granted to those who completed the training was a diploma in Midwifery training.

If a candidate failed to obtain the Diploma in Midwifery, she was granted a certificate in Sick Nursing. The training in sick nursing was then much below the required standard. Therefore, a Scheme for more efficient training was drawn up in 1871 and submitted to the Government for approval by the Inspector-General, Indian Medical Department. The Madras Government sanctioned the scheme for training of six nurses in the Government General Hospital and the Govt. of India sanctioned the recruitment of a Lady Superintendent and four trained Nurses from England for starting the School of Nursing. The school was started on 1st July 1871.

School and College of Nursing. MMC, Chennai.

As there were no Nurses but plenty of Midwives, the proposal of the Surgeon-General that all candidates for Midwifery training should first go to the General Hospital for training and after they had passed through, go to the Lying-in Hospital for Midwifery training. In the beginning, there were only 6 probationers who had very short periods of training ranging from three to six months. Later, six trained Nurses were appointed in addition to six probationers. The first Lady Superintendent (Matron) Miss Martyn was appointed in 1874 and Miss Pier-point came with her in the capacity of a sister (Head Nurse). In 1877, Miss Martyn resigned and after that, there were frequent changes both in staff and methods.

In December, 1891, the subject of improvement of the Nursing Service was submitted to the Government. The number of trained Nurses were increased and two grades were introduced. The staff sanctioned was one Head Nurse or Matron, One Assistant Head Nurse, four Staff Nurses (First Grade) and six Second Grade Nurses and Six probationers in second grade.

In 1894, a further increase in the number of staff was permitted bringing the total number of trained staff nurses upto 18. Great difficulty was experienced in obtaining trained staff, able and willing to undertake the training of probationers. Between 1874 to 1894, 259 candidates entered the Hospital either as trained nurses or probationers and 244 left. For several years, it was found difficult to retain the services of the Nurses, after they had received their certificates. But with better living conditions and pay, the position gradually improved. Training schools were sanctioned in the District Headquarters Hospitals also.

Simultaneously, Christian Missionaries started Hospitals in various parts of the State. The first such Hospital is the Christina Rainy Hospital, Madras. It was started in 1894 by the Church of Scotland Mission. A few years later in 1923 a training school was established in this institution. The teaching was given mainly in the local vernacular (Lower Grade).

Madras Nurses & Midwives Act 1926 (Madras Act Iii Of 1926):

Prior to 1926, Nurses and Midwives and Dhais were carrying on unlicensed practice of their profession in the presidency of Madras. Great need was felt to control their practice. A vital legislation for regulating the unlicenced practice of their profession by nurses, midwives and dhais was introduced in the Madras Legislative Assembly in 1926. It was passed as the Madras Nurses and Midwives act, 1926 (Madras Act III of 1926) and came into force on the 14th day of February, 1928.

The syllabus for the training of nurses was revised in 1927 by adopting the syllabus prescribed by the General Nursing Council for England and Wales, London in a modified form.

Madras Nurses And Midwives Council

A Council called the Madras Nurses and Midwives Council was constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Act. This is the earliest piece of legislation on Nursing in the whole of South-East Asia.

The first meeting of the Council was held on 11th April, 1928 under the presidentship of Maj.Gen.F.H.G. Hutchinson, I.M.S., the Surgeon-General with the Government of Madras.

The second meeting of the Council held on 20-03-1929 gave recognition to nine hospitals as training institutions for nurses, four hospitals for midwives and 35 hospitals for dhais.

The first Register of Nurses, Midwives and Dhais was compiled and printed and published in 1930. A Registrar was also appointed to carry out the functions of the Council and to implement its decisions.

Current Involvement

  • Computerization of all the Council datas from the inception
  • Upgrade the Software to expedite the function of the council
  • RN, RM Certificates are issued on the same day of registration
  • Streamlining the recognition process of the institutions
  • Development of Nurses Data Bank to maintain the Live Registry
  • Renewal of licensure from July 1st 2013 onwards only through Online
  • Shortly Journals on 6 topics will be released
  • Introduction of CNE – Online/Regular ………
  • Faculty Management Software Development
  • Institution Management Software Development