The Queen's Nursing Institute

The Queen's Nursing Institute works with the public, nurses and decision-makers to make sure that good quality nursing is available at home for everyone when they need it.

Healthcare at home

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Enjoy a great day out, and raise vital funds for nursing and caring charities, by visiting an open garden. Click here to find out more.

Visit the Burdett Trust website

Providing vital funding for projects that help improve patient care.

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If you are interested in nursing heritage, visit our website celebrating District Nursing around the world since 1859.

The History of the QNI

The charity traces its origins to 1887 with the grant of £70,000 by Queen Victoria from the Women’s Jubilee Fund. A Royal Charter in 1889 named it ‘Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Institute for Nurses’ and gave it the objectives of providing the ‘training, support, maintenance and supply’ of nurses for the sick poor, as well as establishing training homes, supervising centres, co-operating with other bodies and establishes Branches as necessary.

In 2012 the QNI celebrated it's 125th anniversary. Download our anniversary publication (PDF 2.5MB) below: 

District nursing in this country had begun some years earlier when in 1859, William Rathbone, a Liverpool merchant, philanthropist and later an MP, employed Mary Robinson to nurse his wife at home during her final illness. After his wife’s death, he retained Mary Robinson’s services so that people in Liverpool who could not afford to pay for nursing would benefit from care in their own homes. Seeing the good that nursing in the home could do, William Rathbone and Florence Nightingale worked together to try to develop the service. When too few trained nurses could be found, Rathbone set up and funded a nursing school in Liverpool specifically to train nurses for the 18 ‘districts’ of the City – and so organised ‘district nursing’ began. Manchester, Salford and other cities followed suit, and the Metropolitan and National Nursing Association was set up in 1874.

The founding of the Institute was the next step in co-ordinating and setting national standards for District Nurse training across the country. By 1909, the Jubilee Congress of District Nursing was celebrating 50 years of the profession, with branches of the Institute in Scotland and Ireland, and visitors to the Congress from district nursing associations from as far afield as the United States, Bermuda, Norway and Australia.

The QNI still has links to a number of community nursing organisations in other parts of the world, with whom we share values and heritage. See the 'Links' page for more information.

1927 saw the birth of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) as a fundraising initiative of the QNI. In time NGS became an independent charity in its own right but has remained a vital supporter of the QNI’s work ever since.

The name of the Institute was changed to the ‘Queen’s Institute of District Nursing’ in 1928 and to the Queen’s Nursing Institute in 1973. Nurses have not trained at the Institute since 1968, but the Institute continues to support community nurses in any specialty with project funding, professional development, information networks, financial and personal assistance, and works to influence national policy affecting nurses in primary care.

Visit our sister website, to find out more about the history of community nursing and nurses over the past 150 years.

The Florence Nightingale Museum 

RCN History of Nursing Society 

UK Centre for the History of Nursing



Transition to Community

Homeless Health

Nursing Heritage Calendar

Nursing Heritage Calendar