A HIDDEN HISTORY:
African Women and the
British Health Service
Kofoworola and Mojibola Pratt
Kofoworola Abeni “Ivy” Pratt was born in 1910 in Lagos, Nigeria. She trained at the United Missionary College in Ibadan, Nigeria obtaining a diploma in teaching. From 1936-1940 she taught at the Church Missionary Society girls’ school. In 1946, Kofoworola Pratt married Olu Pratt and moved with him to London. She saw moving to London as an opportunity to follow her original desire of becoming a nurse. From 1946 to 1950, Pratt trained as a nurse at the Nightingale School at St Thomas’ Hospital. Whilst there Pratt completed courses in midwifery, tropical nursing and the Royal College of Nursing’s sisters course. The RCN sisters course was an award from the Nightingale School. In 1950, she qualified as a State Registered Nurse and is believed to have worked in St Thomas’ hospital in London. With the NHS beginning in 1948, she is recognised as one of the first black women to work in the NHS.
In 1954, Kofoworola Pratt returned to Nigeria and despite her many qualifications she continued to face adversity but continued to make history. She was the first Nigerian to become the matron of the University College Hospital in Ibadan. She grew in seniority as she established a school of nursing at the University of Ibadan in 1965 where she was able to shape the future of nursing in Nigeria. Her role in nursing in Nigeria was seen through her various roles such as the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria and Commissioner of Health in Lagos. Her international prestige and dedication to nursing was demonstrated when she was awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal in 1973. For her role in pioneering nursing in the NHS, Kofoworola Pratt was made an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Nursing. Pratt passed away in 1992 but her role in the NHS is being more recognised in recent years and undoubtedly her legacy to nursing to Nigeria is present to this day.
Amy Mojibola Eliza Enid Pratt born around 1920 arrived in England on the 12th October 1953. She landed in Liverpool from Lagos on the Aureol ship and lived in Northampton following her arrival. Mojibola Pratt registered as a nurse on the 25th November 1949 and began her residence in 1950. She carried out her training at Hammersmith She is regarded as one of the first black nurses in the NHS.
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