Wake Up Slackers! The Great Nursing Registration Controversy

This exhibition at the RCN Library and Heritage Centre is currently closed

17 Oct 2019 01:00 - 20 Mar

RCN Library and Heritage Centre, 20 Cavendish Square, Marylebone, London, W1G ORN


Due to COVID-19, this exhibition at the RCN Library and Heritage Centre is currently closed.

After decades of campaigning by nurses, the Nurses Registration Act was finally passed in December 1919. It marked the recognition of nursing as a profession. But registration was not without controversy. Different nursing organisations clashed over stridently opposed ideas, while anti-registration views remained strong. The College of Nursing called for its members to get involved in politics by demanding: “wake up slackers”!

This exhibition commemorates 100 years of nursing registration in the UK by delving into the heated arguments that characterised the registration debate. Antagonistic and often entertaining, the theme also encourages us to reflect on the future of nursing. Is a nurse born or made, Edwardian campaigners wondered. How do we teach or examine care? And is compassion an innate trait or something that can be taught?

Visitor information

All our exhibitions are free to visit. 

Opening hours are Monday - Friday 9am - 7pm, and Saturdays 9am - 5pm.

Not in London? An online exhibition will be launching soon.

See our list of events for this season.

The venue is fully wheelchair accessible with a lift down to the lower ground floor exhibition space. We offer large print guides of exhibition content and transcription of sounds clips. Assistance dogs are welcome.

If you have any other needs, please email us at rcn.library@rcn.org.uk and we will assist you wherever possible.

For more visitor information or press enquiries, contact rcn.library@rcn.org.uk 

RCN Library and Heritage Centre
20 Cavendish Square

20 Cavendish Square is located behind John Lewis, Oxford Street.


The nearest stations are Oxford Circus and Bond Street.


There are many buses routes that stop nearby, including the 10, 25, 55, 73, 98 and 390.

Page last updated - 12/10/2020