State registration of nurses was one of the first RCN campaigns, along with a consistent curriculum and standard examination. In December 1919, Nurses Registration Acts were passed for England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
Three separate General Nursing Councils (GNCs) were established:
- one for England and Wales,
- one for Scotland and
- one for Ireland.
Each was responsible for maintaining a register of nurses, approving training schools and setting examinations.
The registration of nurses was opened on 30 September 1921. Qualified nurses had to pay a fee to be on the register which was published annually from 1922 until the late 1940’s, thereafter quarterly.
From 1950 only newly qualified nurses were published. Existing nurses had until 1923 to join the register and until 1943 only nurses who had completed a recognised course of training were permitted.
However, with the Nurses Act 1943, which made registration a legal requirement, nurses who could produce a certificate that they had completed a course of training before the beginning of July 1925 were given one last opportunity to register.