Photograph of a patient, doctors and nurses at Great Northern Central Hospital, London, 1910 (Catalogue reference: COPY 1/547)

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 full name of the patient, doctor or nurse
      • the hospital they worked or were treated in
      • approximate dates of employment or treatment
  • 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.

Did you know?

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.