Queen's Nursing Institute

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The Queen's Nursing Institute
HeadquartersLondon, W1
Region served
England, Wales, Northern Ireland
Chief Executive
Dr Crystal Oldman CBE

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) is a charity that works to improve the nursing care of people in their own homes in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It does not operate in Scotland, where the Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland performs a similar function. The QNI is also affiliated to the Queen's Institute of District Nursing in Ireland - http://www.qidn.ie/.


In 1859, Liverpool merchant and philanthropist William Rathbone employed a nurse named Mary Robinson to care for his wife at home during her final illness. After his wife's death, Rathbone decided to employ Robinson to nurse people in their own homes who could not afford medical care. The success of this early experiment encouraged him to campaign for more nurses to be employed in the community.

Elizabeth Malleson who was concerned to find that there was little local service of nurses for pregnant women in the 1880s. Malleson arranged for a trained nurse and midwife to be available to serve the people of Gotherington. Malleson's scheme was not the first but she decided to form a national organisation and her appeal for help brought her into contact with Lady Lucy Hicks-Beech. She was the wife of Michael Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn and they gathered enough support to launch a Rural Nursing Association.[1] This was despite the opposition of Florence Nightingale.[2]

These were the beginning of organised district nursing. By the end of the 19th century, with the approval of Queen Victoria, the movement became a national voluntary organisation responsible for setting standards and training nurses. In 1887 'the women of England' raised a Jubilee Fund of £70,000 to mark Victoria's Golden Jubilee. The Queen announced that the money should be used for nursing, and Queen Victoria's Jubilee Institute for Nurses was chartered in 1889.[3] Elizabeth Malleson's nurses became the Rural Nursing Division in 1891 was Malleson was its secretary.[1] Rosalind Paget was the main organisation's first Superintendent, and later Inspector-General.[4] Queen Alexandra agreed to be a patron in 1901, and a Queen has been Patron of the charity ever since. From 1928 the Institute was known as The Queen's Institute of District Nursing until it assumed its present name in 1973.


1 in 4 people over the age of 75 in the United Kingdom need a district nurse's care at home, rising to 1 in 2 people over 85. District nurses visit more than 2.6 million people a year (c.2011). At that time the number of trained district nurses had fallen to < 10,000 in England. The number of health care assistants - trained to do specific tasks - had more than doubled[5] As a result, The Queen's Nursing Institute launched the 'Right Nurse, Right Skills' campaign.[citation needed]

Queen's Nurses[edit]

Training a Queen's Nurse in 1944

The title of ‘Queen’s Nurse’ was first given to nurses who had trained at the QNI, but the institute no longer trains nurses. It does provide them with professional support and development. The QNI re-instated the title of Queen’s Nurse in 2007 after a gap of 40 years to safeguard and promote high standards in patient care.

Today’s Queen’s Nurses have experience of caring for people in their homes or in other community settings. In 2020, there are over 1400 Queen's Nurses.[6]

Programmes and services[edit]

Personal support[edit]

The charity provides grants to nurses in financial need, and educational grants to support nurses taking accredited community nursing courses. In 2020, during the Covid19 pandemic, the QNI launched TalkToUs, a confidential listening service for community nurses to be able to speak to someone about work or personal challenges. The QNI also has a programme called Keep in Touch, that puts working and retired Queen's Nurses together for regular phone contact.

Fund for Innovation[edit]

Since 1990 The Queen’s Nursing Institute has supported hundreds of nurse-led projects through its Fund for Innovation.[7] Dissemination of project results also helps nurses in other areas to learn from and implement new ideas. The projects—led by community nurses, midwives or health visitors—set up new services or improved ways of working. Grants of up to £5000 are available, in addition to a full year of professional development and support. All project leaders benefit from a professional development programme, supported by the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

Homeless Health Programme[edit]

The QNI launched the Homeless Health Programme in 2007, piloted with funding from the Big Lottery Fund until 2010, to offer support to all community nurses, health visitors, midwives and other health professionals working with the homeless.[8] This initiative established a national network of homeless health professionals, offering training events, specialist publications and other support.[9]


Healthcare policy is a key activity for The Queen’s Nursing Institute. The QNI works to influence decision-makers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland on health care policy including primary care, public health, nursing education, regulation and skill mix and issues such as services for homeless people and reducing health inequalities. To do so, The QNI contributes to stakeholder meetings, responds to national consultations, takes up issues raised by local projects where it appears they may have wider significance, and provides examples and information to policy-makers.[citation needed]


In 2009 QNI published a report ‘2020 Vision – focusing on the future of district nursing’ that set out to take a clear and focused look at what district nursing is and does.[10]

In it, they gave their view of a future when “many more people are treated at home, technology is exploited to the full to help deliver care and maintain independence, and the relationship between the individual, their family or carers and the nurse is key to building the trust and confidence people need to remain at home as long as possible”.[11] The report outlined recommendations for the practice, education, training and management of community nursing in the future. An updated report was published in 2014.

In 2019, the QNI alongside the Royal College of Nursing published a new report, Outstanding Models of District Nursing, showing a drop in full time equivalent district nurses in the UK.[12]

International Community Nursing Observatory[edit]

In November 2019, the charity launched the International Community Nursing Observatory (ICNO) to further its research and data gathering objectives, particularly around evidence for the community nursing workforce in the UK. https://www.qni.org.uk/explore-qni/icno/


The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Award for Outstanding Service
Founded in 1994, this award is presented to nurses who have given exceptional service to patients through nursing practice in any aspect of primary health care.

The QNI Long Service Award
This award is given to district nurses who have worked for 21 years or more in the community.

The Philip Goodeve-Docker Memorial Prize

The Dora Rylance Memorial Prize

The Mary Ellen Memorial Prize


In February 2011 The Queen’s Nursing Institute rebranded the organisation. As part of this process it re-emphasized its mission to focus on protecting and improving the standards of nursing care at home.[13] The old logo, in use for more than 120 years, is still used in certain circumstances.


The QNI’s main sources of funding are from grant-making organisations, donations and investment income. The QNI is not part of the NHS, and receives no regular Government funding. The QNI’s most important financial contributor on an annual basis is the National Garden Scheme,[14] which was created by the QNI and which has supported the charity since 1927.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pamela Horn (3 September 2014). Ladies of the Manor: How wives & daughters really lived in country house society over a century ago. Amberley Publishing Limited. pp. 130–. ISBN 978-1-4456-1989-7.
  2. ^ (2004-09-23). Malleson [née Whitehead], Elizabeth (1828–1916), educationist and promoter of rural district nursing. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 15 Jan. 2018, see link
  3. ^ Gordon, Peter; Doughan, David (2001). Dictionary of British Women's Organisations, 1825-1960. p. 121.
  4. ^ Hannam, J. (2004-09-23). Paget, Dame (Mary) Rosalind (1855–1948), nurse and midwife. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 15 Jan. 2018, see link
  5. ^ ”Parliamentary Health Committee, Fifth Report: Commissioning: further issues”. April 5, 2011. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmhealth/796/796vw36.htm
  6. ^ The Queen's Nursing Institute - Queen's Nurses in the community
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2011-09-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ “QNI Homeless Health Initiative’s Improving healthcare for homeless people: A Learning Resource” pp. 2-3.
  9. ^ “QNI Homeless Health Initiative’s Improving healthcare for homeless people: A Learning Resource” pp. 3. http://www.qni.org.uk/docs/Section%20A.pdf Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ ”2020 Vision: Focusing on the future of district nursing. 2009. pp.3
  11. ^ ”2020 Vision: Focusing on the future of district nursing. 2009. pp.7
  12. ^ "District nurse numbers plummet leaving services under-resourced and unsafe". NursingNotes. 2019-05-21. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  13. ^ 5. “QNI Launches New Look”. 1 February 2011: http://www.qni.org.uk/news/23
  14. ^ "NGS - Beneficiaries". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-09-08.

External links[edit]