Nursing through the Troubles
The outbreak of civil unrest in Northern Ireland during 1969-1970 (commonly referred to as the Troubles) affected every aspect of private, public and professional life. Much of this has already been reported and studied through the years, with a focus upon the physical, emotional and psychological impact upon those affected by the Troubles. Hospitals, community health and emergency services throughout Northern Ireland were at the forefront of responding to incidents and the needs of victims. As a result, many advances in medical practice have resulted from the conflict, particularly in areas such as microsurgery and prosthetics.
The nursing workforce across Northern Ireland was at the frontline of service delivery during the Troubles and had to adapt to treating and caring for casualties within all areas of professional practice. Caring for a casualty injured by a bomb or bullet meant that nurses often had to be flexible in applying their professional knowledge and skills to the needs of the patient, often learning from the outcome of previous incidents.
Despite the significant academic and media attention given to the Troubles and the various individuals and groups involved, there has to date been no comprehensive account of what it was like to nurse at any level or discipline, from student to matron, from hospital to the community in Northern Ireland during this period.
The RCN Northern Ireland History of Nursing Network is recording the real life stories of nurses during the Troubles in a way that reflects the diversity of nursing across all service areas and all areas during this prolonged period of unrest. How did nurses deal with the casualties of bomb, bullets and barricades? How did that affect nurses' personal and professional lives? How and in what way did nurses learn to adapt and cope with these often distressing and emotionally charged situations?
Below is the link to a form that you can use to tell your story in your own words. There is also a guidance form that sets out some of the issues you might wish to address. The stories received will help to inform a book that the RCN Northern Ireland History of Nursing Network intends to publish during 2013.
Please send your story so that you can be part of this important record of nursing through the Troubles.