Muriel Powell started training at St George’s Hospital in 1934 and later returned in 1947 to become matron aged just 32. At the time she was considered too young for the position and her instatement “raised eyebrows” amongst the medical establishment. She swiftly proved her detractors incorrect, working at St George’s for twenty two years.
Powell was an influential role model, leader of, and spokesperson for her profession. She jointly recommended that the NHS no longer use the title ‘matron’ in 1968.
The most famous nurse in Britain
In 1968, Muriel Powell was made a Dame for her services to nursing. As Dame Muriel she became the most famous nurse in Britain since the First World War. To the general public she was the matron who enabled patients to remain, unawakened, in bed in hospital until seven o'clock in the morning. This simple concession for the sick in hospital, from her manual on nursing, caught the public imagination through the popular press.
The Dame Muriel Powell Award is presented in her honour to those who have made important contributions to nursing by the St George’s Nurses League.