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Nursing the Wounded

In connection with the untrained nursing at the front and m some of the hospitals m England an important step was taken at the annual meeting of the National Council of Trained Nurses of Great Britain and Ireland. We reprint the resolution which was carried and which was sent to the Secretary of State for War : — ■ RESOLUTION AND STATEMENT SENT TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR. When war was declared early m August the Nursing profession m the United Kingdom realised with satisfaction that never before had it been so well prepared to fulfil the duties which might be imposed upon it. An experienced Matron -in- Chief was at the War Office at the head of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Seivice, with a supply of expert Matrons, Sisters, Staff-nurses, and Orderlies at her command. In addition to the regular staff, a Reserve of fully qualified nurses was available. This Service was well supplemented by the Territorial Force Nursing Service of nearly 3,000 thoroughly trained certificated nurses, selected and supervised by a number of very experienced Principal Matrons. These expert nurses were at once mobilised. Of volunteer trained nurses several thousands were available. Thus we looked torward with confidence to nursing the sick and wounded soldiers m the most skilled manner possible ; and had the War Office grasped the helm at once, and taken absolute control of every hospital, and every nurse utilised for nursing the troops at home and abroad, we are 01 opinion that an enormous amount of disorganisation and suffering might have been prevented* This, apparently, the War Office was unable to do, because certain powers and responsibilities had been delegated to the British. Red Cross Society ■ — and that Society, so far as nursing is concerned, has failed to appreciate the value of trained nursing skill m the practical application of medical treatment, so that when war broke out it was absolutely unprepared so far as a supplementary trained nursing service was concerned. It took but a few weeks to prove the dangerously inefficient system of nursing approved by the British Red Cross Society, and evidence of this inefficiency elicited a firm protest m the form of a Resolution passed unanimously at the annual meeting of the National Council of Trained Nurses of Great Britain and Ireland, held m London on December 3rd, 1914. This resolution was sent to the Secretary of State for War, and resulted m a request from the Director General of the Army Medical Service for evidence m its support- — a request which was complied with m the following statement on December 31st, 1914 : RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF TRAINED NURSES. The National Council of Trained Nurses of Great Britain and Ireland, m annual meeting assembled, desires to place on record its unqualified disapproval of the present organisation of the nursing of sick and wounded soldiers m military auxiliary hospitals at home and abroad.

In the opinion of the National Council, the standard of nursing for the sick and wounded should be of the highest quality that a grateful nation can provide for men who are risking their lives m the deience of the Empire. This Council therefore most earnestly petitions the Secretary of State for War (whose Department is primarily responsible for the health and comiort of the troops) to prevent the expenditure of the munificent subscriptions of the public on inefficient nursing, and the subjection of the sick and wounded to the dangerous interference of untiained and unskilled women, who have been placed m. positions of • responsibility for which they are not qualified greatly to the detriment of the discipline m military auxiliary hospitals, and the general welfare of the sick. We have not space to reproduce the whole supplement m which this appears, but generally the statement sent afterwards to the Director General of the Army Medical Service, deals with the standard of nursing and criticises the organisation of sick and wounded soldiers m the military auxiliary hospitals and compares the standard then allowed to that required by the War Office for the regular military and Territorial hospitals. It also comments on the fact that there is not a single Matron of a past or present training school on the Council of the British Red Cross Society, and that as women of the necessary knowledge are not available to control the organisation of the Voluntary Aid Detachments and that this is left to people of wealth and social position. It criticises the lack of trained nursing supplied by the British Eed Cross m previous wars, when aid has been sent to foreign countries without that great essential and mentions the protest of the Matron's Council on these occasions. It comments on the dangerous interference by the unskilled, and on the women who have been allowed to assume the responsibility of commandants, sanctioned by the War Office and given practical control of hospitals for the wounded, who are absolutely ignorant of sanitary, domestic, medical and nursing science. It complains that owing to these people being m charge the provision of trained nursing is reduced to a minimum so that acute cases cannot be properly nursed, and after detailing the scheme for the use of these Voluntary Aid Detachments says : — ■ " It is almost incredible that owing to this scheme it is actually proposed that acutely sick and wounded men, whose lives are m

the balance, may be handled and cared for 1 m the supremely important hours between the time when their wounds are received, and the time when they reach the base hospital, by young women who are untrained, and whose age according to the regulations should not be less than seventeen. :i In our opinion, from the time the wounded arrive at the clearing hospitals, until they cease to be under medical care, they should be attended by thoroughly qualified nurses, and as expressed m the Resolution of the National Council of Trained Nurses, the standard of such nursing should be the best a grateful nation can provide."

Another complaint stated is the use of the trained nurses uniform by the Voluntary Aid Detachment members, not only when on duty as nurses, but when employed as cooks, orderlies, hall porters and so on. Practical suggestions were made by Mrs. Bedford Fenwick at the end of the statement and appendices forwarded giving instances, and evidence of the truth of the statements. We hope that this outspoken, fearless, and Well thought out statement, which is m every way most reasonable, and merely demands for our soldiers the care they have a right to expect, has already borne fruit, as we hear that the staffs of voluntary hospitals have been reorganised and many recalled.

Notes from the v British Journal of Nursing "

December 19.

We feel sure New Zealand Nurses will rejoice to learn that the four " registered ): New Zealand nurses working under the French Flag Nursing Corps, have won high praise from their superiors. Sisters Lind and Hitchcock have gained respect at Rouen, and Sister Cooke and Eaddy, we learn are very much liked m their " services " at Bernay, and it is not improbable that the former will be made Infirmiere Major, as her doctor thinks very highly of her work. An interesting letter from Sister Ella Cooke who was trained at the Auckland Hospital, is published m another column. Some of the French Flag Nursing Corps the Grey's unit, are now to be moved from Havre to Dunkirk to nurse the enteric cases, " where there are as many as 200 patients attended by one nun, and some orderlies. The patients are allowed to get up to the night stools, even cases of haemorrhage." It is added that there are as many as 20 to 30 deaths a day. The French Ministry is favourable to the proposal to move up nearer the front those nurses who have proved their worth at the base, many of whom have not only gained the confidence of the Medical Officers, but have so applied themselves to learning the language that many now speak French very fairly and arc therefore doubly useful. Later.- — We read now that nurses Lind and Hitchcock are among the nurses moved up to the front.

January 30.

For some weeks past enteric has had a grip of the French and Belgian soldiers at the front, and great suffering has resulted from a lack of a sufficient supply of trained nurses. Now these cases are being drafted m great numbers to the base hospitals m France, and nurses working m French hospitals can no longer complain that they have nothing to do. We fear this terrible disease has got a bad hold of the troops of our Allies, and we are thankful to know that an increasing number of Englishnurses are now engaged battling with its ravages, both at the front and at the base. In addition to the units of the French Flag Nursing Corps, composed of about eighteen nurses, sent to Dunkirk and elsewhere recently to nurse French soldiers suffering from enteric fever, we learn that Miss Edith Gregory (Bart.'s League), is there, battling almost single-handed m a hospital containing several hundred beds with an overwhelming number of these sufferers. Arrangements are most primitive — -the poor patients having to get up themselves, and wrap their cold pack sheets around their burning bodies. How is it that such conditions can be ? Surely our funds for sick and wounded are sufficiently munificent to have spared the cost of fifty English nurses to help combat this epidemic of enteric amongst ihe French troops. Action, we are glad to learn, is now being taken by the Friends Ambulance Unit to start a Fever Hospital at Dunkirk ; and we hear it is probable that

Miss Minnie Draka r, d, the experienced Matron of the Plaistow Fever Hospital, will be m charge of the nursing department. Nothing could be better.

From Lisieux we learn that the nurses are so busy night and day that they do not feel justified m taking time off duty. The night nursing, though specially valuable, is very arduous and the nurses take a fortnight's spell only at a time.

Some of the very best work done by members of the R.N.S. m France has fallen to the lot of Si ter Bow and Sister Gramshaw, who have been engaged for sixteen weeks at Deau ville. The former has charge of the Villa for enterics, and by careful nursing has aved many lives, and the latter has charge of the Salle d' operations at the Casino. Both Sisters, who were given ten weeks' leave for nursing m France, should have returned long ago, but the Mayor of Deau ville, and the four medical officers with whom they work, have all written to the office petitioning that the invaluable services of the Sisters may be retained for the French soldiers Under these circumstances who could have the heart to withdraw them ? We know how few comparatively really efficient English nurses have been able to take service m France. We believe by the time the War is over the skilled services of our thorouglhy trained nurses will have done an immense amount to produce confidence and solidarity between the Allies. The soldiers themselves are very keen on having trained nurses attend them, and well know the difference between skilled and unskilled handling.

We are glad to get a letter from a nurse near the front who says, "we have not much inconvenience to put up with as this hospital is very well equipped," but she advises nurses to bring out stout rubber boots, as most of the nurses attached to hospitals live and sleep some way from them, and going to and fro to meals and sleep it is very necessary to be very warmly clad, and to keep the feet very dry. 'It is our duty to keep well — and to be careful what one eats and not to get chills makes all the difference. Several nurses have suffered much from dysentery, but they are usually those who won't wear rubbers, and who

will eat what they like, instead of what is good for them. Perhaps you will give this hint through " The British Journal of Nursing," as it is most eagerly awaited and read every week. The patients love to see the photographs of nurses and patients together. They are so wonderfully patient and deeply grateful for our care. It is quite pathetic to hear them m the night, when one is rather run off one's feet, say as one passes their beds : :i If you can spare time," and " When you've settled the other Johnnies," and :c Don't worry about me, I can wait," &c All the same how like children they are — these splendid wonderful creatures. Really one must be very impartial m one's attentions — especially about wounds. When I first came out here, I tried to buoy the really badly wounded men up by making light of their injuries. Sister was much amused : " They may call these ghastly gashes scratches, it is their little way," she said ; " but don't you venture to do so. These men have risked their lives for us. You are to treat every wound with veneration."

We wonder if the Censor " snipped " less, and more of the truth was told, if it would not be better. If we at home really knew the truth would it not be impossible for hearty young chaps to remain, doing clericaL work m Government and other offices, tapping typewriters, and doing much other work their fathers and sisters could do quite as well. A nurse writes : : ' It is pitiful to hear what the poor Tommies endure. One man told me to-day he saw two men bogged m the mud m the trenches and no one could get them out. Up to their knees m mud, and to the waists m water, he said they just fell over m the water and were drowned. A few days ago we got a lot of men m with frost-bitten feet, and they told us that many of the men were missing. They were leaving their trenches at night under cover of the dark only 75 or 80 yards from the Germans, and many of them could not walk and lay down on the ground crying with helplessness. -He . said they would crawl into deserted barns and huts, but the Germans were shelling these houses, and many would be killed and. die of cold. Another Tommy told me he had seen fifteen Indians hung up m tlie barbed wire — they had been scrambling over, and

wounded, and no one could rescue thsm at the end of it. You can imagine how as the fire was so heavy. They hung all this makes our men eager to get at there a week and som. of them were living real grips with the Germans.

In Servia

In January the first hospital unit organised m England under the authority of the Serbian Government, left for that country. Dr. James Bury, F.R.C.S., Senior Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, m charge, and two woman doctors, Mrs. Dickson Bury M.D., and Miss Dorothy Chick, MR.C.S., and a number of trained nurses went under a sister m charge. We have heard that Nurse Lewis, late of Otaki, whose letter was published m the last issue, went to Servia, but her name is not given among these nurses. However, as two other parties have gone to Servia and Lady Paget has for some time had a voluntary unit there, she may be among these. We read that the need m Servia is very great indeed as there is much enteric, and want of food and clothing is very great. The Scottish Women's Hospital for Foreign Service, has also sent a complete unit and equipment to Servia, of four doctors one x-ray expert with full outfit, a matron, ten nurses, six dressers, two wardmaids, two orderlies and a clerk. On arrival the unit was at once given a hospital of 250 wounded. There was an equipment valued at £3,000. The Serbian Government has undertaken to maintain the hospital. Sir Frederick Treves, presiding at the

second Chadwick lecture on ' War and Disease, given by Dr. F. M. Sandwith last week, emphasised the protection afforded to the soldiers m the present Expeditionary Force by inoculation against typhoid fever. The result, he said, had been perfectly astonishing. Since the war began there had been m the British Expeditionary Force only 212 cases of typhoid. Of these 201 were unprotected men, 173 had not been inoculated at all, while 28 had received either one inoculation or had not been inoculated for a period of over two years. Amongst these 212 patients there were 22 deaths, all m the cases of noninoculated men. Not a single man had died of typhoid fever m the British Expeditionary Force who had been inoculated. These facts speak for themselves. Trained nurses who are thinking of offering for service with the sick and wounded should be both vaccinated and inoculated against typhoid fever as a preliminary, so that they will no; be detained, should their services be accepted, by having to undergo this treatment. ■ — From the British Journal of Nursing. Note. — The nurses leaving New Zealand for service have all been both vaccinated and inoculated against typhoid before leaving.

A Fire averted

A possibly very disastrous fire at St. Helen's Hospital, Wellington, was averted by the presence of mind of Nurse Christian Maclean, the acting sub- natron (who was taking charge m the absence of the Matron), and. Mrs. Whitehouse, the staff nurse. The small sterilising room was full of patients' and infants' clothes, brought m from outside, which it has been the custom for sometime past to subjec. to formalin fumes before taking to the wards. Apparently the lines on, which the articles were susp nded

broke and something fell on to the formalin lamp, for the room was suddenly discovered to be m flames, md Sister was called. She immediately rushed to the firehose, which a short time before the firebrigade people had declared was quite impossible for women to handle, and with the assistance of the nur_es quickly had the fire out. No damage other than the destruction of a few pounds' worth of clothing, fo • which th" patients will be compensated, wa; done.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/periodicals/KT19150401.2.52

Bibliographic details

Nursing the Wounded, Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume VIII, Issue 2, 1 April 1915

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Nursing the Wounded Kai Tiaki : the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, Volume VIII, Issue 2, 1 April 1915

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