People's History of the NHS


Don’t Mess With the Nurse, 1971

This cartoon from 1971 marks a change from the more regular depiction of nurses as ministering angels. In fact lots of Giles' cartoons from this period show nurses in combative mood, asserting themselves in interactions with unruly patients. Here one nurse, having been criticised by a patient, shoves him down the hill and into a pond. The newspapers clutched by other patients as they look on reveal a little of the context. From the late 1960s onwards complaints over the pay and conditions endured by nurses became steadily more intense as much of the class and gender-based deference that propped up hospital hierarchies started to come under question.

Ronald Carl Giles/Daily Express/N&S Syndicaton ( and British Cartoon Archive (

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