Sunday, 15 March 2009

Great Military Hospitals 1902

Regular inspections of military hospitals had always been carried out, but at the time of the formation of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service in 1902, both the Surgeon-General and the Matron-in-Chief QAIMNS made visits to all large military hospitals to check how the new nursing scheme was working, and to report on any improvements that needed to be made. An increased number of nursing sisters meant that they could be deployed in more hospitals, and take a larger part in the administration of the hospital and in the training of orderlies of the Royal Army Nursing Corps, which was not a universally popular 'improvement'. These reports, all from 1902-3, survive at The National Archives, and I've recently added those for the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, and The Herbert Hospital, Woolwich, and the Cambridge Hospital Aldershot to the Scarletfinders website, and they can be found via these links:

Royal Victoria Hospital Netley

The Herbert Hospital Woolwich

Cambridge Hospital Aldershot

I've already transcribed many of these hospital reports, which total almost one hundred, but the majority are for smaller barrack hospitals which never employed female nursing staff. Some of these small military 'hospitals' were truly awful, but a prize for one of the worst must go to Burnley:

This hospital had been closed about a week before our visit. It was in a most deplorable condition of filth and neglect, and was quite unfit for habitation. The non-commissioned officer in charge was, at the time of our visit, under arrest, and the equipment was removed. If this hospital is ever to be reopened, much will require to be done to make it suitable for sick soldiers. In fact the whole barracks presented a picture of the most abject squalor, and the sight of them must have a strongly deterrent effect upon any man in Burnley who might think of enlisting. They were really disgraceful.

There have been a lot of complaints recently about the treatment of soldiers in hospital today, but thank goodness things have got a bit better in the last hundred years!

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