Jack Hayward obituary

Other lives: Nursing professor who became director of the pioneering National Nursing Research Unit

In 1976 my colleague Jack Hayward, who has died aged 82, was the second nursing professor to be appointed in England (after Jean McFarlane, Lady McFarlane of Llandaff, appointed at Manchester in 1974) and the first man to earn this distinction.

Born into a family of railway workers on the Isle of Wight, son of Ethyl and Horrace Hayward, Jack trained in general and psychiatric nursing at Whitecroft hospital on the island. He became a nurse tutor and studied part-time for a psychology degree. He was then appointed one of the six members of the important Study of Nursing Care project in 1969 and gained his PhD at the London School of Economics in 1972.

The main aim of the project was to develop methods to measure the effectiveness of nursing care in general hospitals. Jack’s contribution was his landmark study Information: A Prescription Against Pain. He showed that giving relevant information to patients before their operation significantly reduced their post-operative pain and anxiety. The experimental design that Jack used was unique in UK nursing at the time. This and other methods he pioneered helped future generations of nurses to transform care for patients and raised the profession’s standing. My own programme of research investigating the effects of psychosocial interventions in acute medical and surgical wards developed from Jack’s initial research.

After two years as principal nursing officer for research in the Department of Health, in 1976 Jack was appointed to the foundation chair in nursing studies at Chelsea College, University of London, which in 1985 merged with King’s College London. It was after the transition to King’s that the Department of Health and Social Security funded the pioneering National Nursing Research Unit; unsurprisingly, a few years later, Jack became its director.

The high calibre of graduate nurses who emerged from the King’s degree programme has had a “cascading” influence on many aspects of the nursing, midwifery and health visiting professions over the years since the department was established. Indeed, many of these graduates went on to become distinguished professors of nursing.

Despite his impressive academic credentials, Jack never lost his view that the best research was that which made an impact on practice and translated to demonstrable patient improvements. Quality was Jack’s mantra. He liked to quote John Ruskin’s view that quality arises from intelligent effort rather than by accident. In recognition of his services to nursing, Jack was appointed CBE in 1986.

Despite his illustrious professional career, it was Jack’s love of the sea and nature that was most evident throughout his life, a passion he passed on to his children and grandchildren, all of whom remember a patient, caring and intelligent man who, given the opportunity, loved to share his knowledge, strength of character and wry humour.

Jack is survived by his second wife, Jane (nee Ramage), whom he married in 1995, his children Chris, Steve and Ali, from his first marriage, to Margarete, which ended in divorce, and six grandchildren.

• This article was amended on 20 September 2016. Jack Hayward was the second nursing professor in England, rather than in the UK, as previously stated.

Patrick Callaghan

The GuardianTramp

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