The National Archives does not hold patients’ records and is not the best place to find information about doctors or nurses. However, this guide will help you find the doctors and nurses records that we do hold, most of which relate to the administration and policy of health services, as well as records from other archives.
There are many sources of information about medical staff, most of which are in other archives, although not all records survive. Most surviving records from hospitals are in local archives.
What do I need to know before I start?
Try to find out:
- the full name of the patient, doctor or nurse
- the hospital they worked or were treated in
- approximate dates of employment or treatment
What records can I see online?
Medical registers (1859-1959)
Search UK Medical Registers on Ancestry.co.uk (£) for lists of doctors with their residence, qualification and date of registration.
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
Records of the General Nursing Council for England and Wales (c1860-1984)
For rolls and registers of nurses maintained by the General Nursing Council consult:
- the printed nominal indexes in DT 10/1-56 to locate records in DT 10 (1921-1973)
- the printed nominal indexes in DT 11/1-9 to locate records in DT 11 (1944-1973)
- DT 12 (1973-1983) – the records in DT 12/24-26 are not on a readable format
Although the Register in DT 10 was opened in 1921 it includes details of nurses who had qualified previous to this.
Records of midwives (1872-1983)
Browse the midwives rolls by year in DV 7 in our catalogue.
Records of medical staff in Poor Law Unions and workhouses (1833-1921)
Browse the registers in MH 9 (1837-1921) and the correspondence and papers in MH 12 (1833-1909) in our catalogue for records of nurses and matrons working for the Poor Law Unions and in the workhouses.
To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
Visit the Wellcome Library to view records of the Queen’s Nursing Institute (1887-1997), including lists of names submitted for appointment as Queen’s Nurses (1891-1969) and badge registers (1907-1945).
London Metropolitan Archives
Contact London Metropolitan Archives for records of London training schools for nurses, including Guy’s Hospital and the Nightingale Training School.
Lambeth Palace Library
Browse the name index to medical licences issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1535 to 1775 and held by Lambeth Palace Library.
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
There was no central register of civilian nurses before 1921. Before 1919, when the General Nursing Council was established, records of nurses were kept by individual nurse training schools, most of which were attached to major hospitals, where the records can often still be found.
Health authorities are required to keep confidential records for the shortest practical time, though some hospitals may have older records. Administrative records of hospitals are normally closed for 30 years and patients’ records for 100 years.
The Medical Directory lists names and addresses of doctors from 1845. From 1858 all doctors had to be registered, with details published in the annual Medical Register.