The origins and development of the district nursing movement help explain why the NGS was established.
In 1859, a philanthropic Liverpool merchant, William Rathbone, employed a nurse to care for his wife at home. After his wife’s death, Rathbone retained the nurse and asked her to help poor people in the neighbourhood. Then, convinced of the need for wider availability of local nursing care, he raised funds for the recruitment, training and employment of nurses to go into the deprived areas of the city, which he divided into `districts`, each with an honorary `Lady Superintendent`.
This was the beginning of `District` Nursing. By the end of the 19th century, the idea had been taken up across the country and, with the help of Florence Nightingale and the warm approval of Queen Victoria, the movement became a national voluntary organisation responsible for setting standards and training nurses.
By 1926, the service, now renamed the Queen`s Nursing Institute (QNI), set up a new fund to invest in more training and to give pension support to nurses who were retiring after years of service. A Council member, Miss Elsie Wagg, came up with the novel idea of combining a national obsession with gardening with raising money for charity.