This film is part of Free

District Nurse

Never a dull moment for a rural district nurse in the early days of the NHS.

Government sponsored film 1952 27 mins


"Mr Lee is one of my favourite patients - 90 years old and the only thing wrong with him is that he can't use his legs!," says Jane Symonds, one of two district nurses covering the Wadhurst area of East Sussex whose work is showcased in this warm and inspiring film. The film's remit was to promote Britain's new National Health Service to overseas audiences - and to encourage applications to the nursing profession.

An apparently typical day's work for these two dedicated nurses - who live together in a small rural cottage - includes teaching a farm worker to administer his wife's daily injection, dressing the ulcerated leg of an 80-year-old man, tending to an injured motorcyclist and delivering a baby. Their well-earned down time is spent growing cacti plants or knitting. As an Indian-born Jewish woman, the film's director, Sarah Erulkar, was a rarity in the realms of postwar British documentary filmmaking. Erulkar's early and highly successful career at the prestigious Shell Film Unit came to an abrupt end upon her marriage, though she went on to achieve further success elsewhere.