How to look for records of... Patients, doctors or nurses

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

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 hospital they worked or were treated in
  • approximate dates of employment or treatment

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.

What records can I see online?

Medical registers (1859-1959)

Search UK Medical Registers on (£) 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?

Wellcome Library

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?


Search the Hospital Records Database to find information on the location of hospital records, including those about staff and patients, in the UK.

Consult the genealogy and research advice within the Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Services for advice on finding records of nurses.

Visit the website of the Royal British Nurses Association for general information on the history of nursing.

Explore the Queen’s Nursing Institute’s District Nursing 150 website for historical accounts of district nursing and nurses.

Search Munk’s Roll on the Royal College of Physicians website for obituaries of Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians dating back to the founding of the college.