ƒ Nursing over the ages: Nurses in the dining room of the Western Infirmary in

Glasgow in the 1960s; the photograph is one of many held by the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Archives

 Maggie Myles receiving an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Obstetrical

Society in 1978 (Copyright The Scotsman).

regarded by many in the profession as ‘Te Bible’. Remarkably Myles, who was born in 1892, started writing the book after her retire- ment in 1952 and saw 10 editions published in her lifetime, including 20 reprints into five different languages. Material held in the Lothian Health Services Archive bears witness to the fact that she remained active well into the 1960s and 70s, at one point flying to the Arctic Circle in Canada to lecture Eskimos on the importance of maternity care. She also undertook 35 flights in six months as part of a global lecture series, and her work included setting up a midwifery school in Ethiopia. She received an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Obstetrical Society in 1978, having previ- ously turned down an MBE on two occasions because she did not want to be seen to ‘covet’ such an award.

Both women, who died in 1967 and 1988 respectively, are subject of a tribute in this landmark year from Teresa Fyffe, Royal College of Nursing (Scotland) Director, who says: “Te NHS has changed significantly in its 70 years, but one thing that has never changed is the difference that nurses and midwives make to peoples’ lives. Inspi- rational women have always been at the heart of the NHS but arguably have often been overlooked in the history books. Two decorated women who paved the way for the health care industry are Elsie Stephenson and Maggie Myles. “Elsie Stephenson became the University

of Edinburgh’s first Director of the Nursing Studies Unit in 1956, which was the first nursing department in a European univer-

sity. Described in the Journal of Advanced Nursing as “Britain’s nursing messiah of the 20th century”, Elsie helped position Scot- land as a world leader in nursing education and research. “In 1953 Margaret Myles, a midwife and

pioneering educator from Aberdeen, pub- lished the revolutionary manual ‘Textbook for Midwives’. Now in its 16th edition and inter- nationally recognised, ‘Textbook for Midwives’ is the world’s best-selling midwifery textbook. “Tese influential women have been

instrumental in establishing the status of the nursing and midwifery profession today and we owe a debt of gratitude to all the nurses and midwives who have shaped the future for today’s nursing workforce.” Dr Mary Ross-Davie, Royal College of

Midwives’ Director for Scotland, adds: ”Maggie Myles has had a huge impact on midwifery skills and practices, not just in Scotland but around the world; a textbook like Myles’s con- tinues to be really crucial for student midwives all over the world and it’s amazing when you

“These influential women have

been instrumental in establishing the status of the nursing and midwifery

profession today” Theresa Fyffe, Royal College of Nursing (Scotland) Director

 Elsie Stephenson became the University of Edinburgh’s first Director of the Nursing

Studies Unit in 1956. (Image courtesy of the Lothian Health Services Archive).

go to places like Bangladesh, Nepal or Uganda and you see it in the classrooms there.” When asked how midwifery has changed

since Myles’s first textbook, which she used to write after visiting between 20 and 40 maternity units to keep up to date on the latest techniques, Ross-Davie says: “I think there are some universal things that will remain the same and that will run through all of the Myles textbooks over the years and will never change; so for example, around physical skills helping a woman during labour but also about that emotional support and communication.” Interestingly, Ross-Davie says that the key

shift that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, when increasingly women went from home births to a hospital setting, may be slowly changing back. Te RCM’s recent Best Start policy guid-

ance bases itself on evidence that refutes previously held ideas about the hospital as being a ‘safer’ birthing environment. New guidance is all about giving women

the choice between home births, hospital and new ‘community maternity units’, which are attached to hospitals but not part of a consultant-led labour ward, one of which has recently opened in Wishaw and another is due to open at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. “Best Start is seeing midwives doing that

whole role which Maggie Myles would have been familiar with, where you are part of the community and you are providing care for women through the whole journey,” says Ross-Davie. So, back to Call the Midwife, then? “Yes, that’s right, back to Call the Midwife.” n

NHS70 | SUMMER 2018 | 17

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