Catherine M. Hall

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Dame Catherine Mary Hall DBE FRCN (19 December 1922 – 26 August 1996) was a British nurse and nursing administrator who was the longest serving General Secretary of the UK's Royal College of Nursing (1957–82).[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Hall was born on 19 December 1922 in Sheffield, England.[2] Her father was the chief constable in Rotherham, which is where she moved when she was still a child.[3] Hall went to school at Hunmanby School for Girls at Filey, Yorkshire and then went on to study nursing at Leeds General Hospital.[4]

Career and achievements[edit]

Hall knew from the age of 14 that she wanted to be a nurse, but her parents were against this.[5] It was after World War II broke out that she began her career at Birmingham Children's Hospital[5] where she started her pre-training.[6] After this she became ward sister at Leeds General Infirmary where she was the youngest person to fill that role at age 22, later rising to Night Superintendent and Assistant Matron by age 28.[5] Hall spent some time in Canada and the United States (1951–52) on a travelling fellowship.[3]

Hall made the move from Birmingham to Leeds where she completed her training in order to be closer to home as her mother had become ill.[6] In 1954 Hall was then appointed to the position of Assistant Matron at Middlesex Hospital following a year of study with the Royal College of Nursing.[3] The Royal College of Nursing had to advertise twice before appointing Hall as its General Secretary, replacing Francis Goodall at the age of 34.[6]

It was during Hall's time as General Secretary, and under her leadership, that the Royal College of Nursing became a trade union in 1977 which she felt was an 'essential step'.[7] Although it should be noted that Hall was opposed to industrial action,[4] she publicly criticized the governments proposed 2.5% salary hike for nurses.[3] After a confrontation with Enoch Powell, Conservative MP and Minister of Health, Hall negotiated a 7.5% increase.[5] Another achievement during Hall's time as general secretary was her support of the campaign to allow men to join the RCN and the registers were opened to them in 1960 with the lifting of the constitutional ban.[8] The first male nurse on the College's registers was Albery Verdun Whittamore who was chief male nurse at Horton Psychiatric Hospital.[1] It was also during her time as General Secretary that Hall opened the nursing registers to enrolled nurses in 1969 and then a year later to student nurses.[9] Hall's contribution to the RCN was to increase the membership from 30,000 to 200,000.[7]

Hall served on many committees:[10]

  • Assistant Matron, Middlesex Hospital, London (1954–56).
  • General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing (1957–82).
  • Member, Commission on Industrial Relations (1971–74).
  • Member, General Medical Council (1979–89).
  • First chairwoman on UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (1980–85).
  • Sat on the panel for the World Health Organization.



  1. ^ a b "Royal College of Nursing". Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "Hall; Dame; Catherine Mary (1922-1996); nurse". Royal College of Nursing. 
  3. ^ a b c d Hancock, Christine (2 September 1996). "Obituary: Dame Catherine Hall". The Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Smith, Lorraine N. (31 August 1996). "Dame Catherine Hall". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d Whyte, Alison (1996). "The pearl inside the twinset". Nursing Times. 92 (37). 
  6. ^ a b c McGann, Susan; Crowther, Anne; Dougall, Rona (1 January 2009). A history of the Royal College of Nursing 1916-1990 : a voice for nurses. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-71907-796-8. OCLC 317748939. 
  7. ^ a b Leifer, Dina (1996). "Nursing pays tribute to Dame Catherine Hall". Nursing Standard. 10: 6. 
  8. ^ "100 years of the RCN". The Royal College of Nursing. 
  9. ^ "Former RCN general secretary dies". Nursing Times. 92 (35): 6. 1996. 
  10. ^ a b Hancock, Christine (1996). "Dame Catherine Mary Hall DBE CBE Hon DLitt SRN SCM FRCN". Nursing Standard. 10: 11. 
  11. ^ "No. 44210". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1966. p. 11. 
  12. ^ "RCN Fellowship and Honorary Fellowship Roll of Honour" (PDF). Royal College of Nursing. 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  13. ^ "No. 47207". The London Gazette. 26 April 1977. p. 5634. 
  14. ^ "No. 48837". The London Gazette. 30 December 1981. p. 7.