An analysis of the medical condition of 223 entrants to the nursing profession is attempted, with particular reference to 161 such nurses examined in accord with the recommendations of the King Edward's Hospital Fund for London (1943). This is followed by a short-term medical follow-up on these nurses by clinical examination, weight records, and ancillary tests. Of the total number of entrants eight (3·6 %) were rejected on medical grounds, and four (2·5 %) of the 161 were rejected on the findings of the initial examination.
An analysis of the sixty-five (29 %) nurses lost to the profession in their first year of service shows that 70 % had attempted an uncongenial vocation. It is suggested that vocation selection tests should be tried in attempting to lessen this costly drain of recruits. This figure of 29 % is no higher than the peacetime figure found by the Lancet Commission (Athlone Report, 1938).
An analysis of the illnesses of the nursing staff at Westminster Hospital during 3 years from 1 July 1943 to 30 June 1946 is presented, nearly 60 % of the illnesses being accounted for by respiratory tract infection and cutaneous sepsis. It has been shown that illness of more than 50 days in duration accounts for only 5 % of attacks of illness, but practically 30 % of the time lost through illness. It is suggested that such illness should be differentiated in analyses, from illnesses of shorter duration. A comparison of illnesses in staff nurses and student nurses follows; the figures suggest a lower morbidity rate in staff nurses, but the number of staff nurses is so small that the author cannot state that this has been demonstrated.
A comparison table between previous illness surveys and the present figures is presented which demonstrates a decreasing number of attacks of illness per nurse over the last 20 years in this country, probably due to better basic conditions of life.
A similar but international comparison applied to respiratory tract infection and cutaneous sepsis demonstrates that the former accounts for about 40 % of all the attacks of illness in this country and internationally. The previous figures for Great Britain, however, are exceptional in showing a much higher incidence of sepsis than elsewhere; this has not been substantiated by the present survey.
Figures for the amount of time lost per year through sepsis, tonsillitis and catarrhal disease are compared with those of Branson (1933) of 20 years ago, and perhaps illustrate the beneficial effect of surgery in cutaneous sepsis, and of sulphonamides in tonsillitis, as against the negligible therapeutic advances in catarrhal disease. The amount of tonsillitis sustained by nurses in the children's ward is shown as being out of proportion to the number of nurses employed.
Finally suggestions are made for promoting the health of nurses, which include: (i) the provision of a ‘welfare officer’ in the nurses' home; (ii) illness allowance proposals; (iii) remarks on the technique of ‘reporting sick’; (iv) staffing children's ward with senior nurses only.