Friday, 28 May 2010
The screens please Nurse
This year marks the centenary of the death of Florence Nightingale and 12 May was her birthday. She may well be regarded as the Mother of Army nursing having been dispatched to the war in Crimea after reports in the newspapers described the desperate lack of proper medical facilities for wounded British soldiers at the front. She had a vocation for nursing but her practical training was extremely limited; her forte was organisation and leadership. She was able to significantly improve conditions and her spell in the Crimea led to the formation of the Army Nursing Service in 1861.
From this came a number of military nursing organisations; the main one being the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. QAIMNS or the ‘Regular' military nursing service was formed in March 1902, as part of a general reorganisation of the Army Medical Services, and included many existing members of its forerunner, the Army Nursing Service, which had provided nurses for military hospitals since 1861. Despite a reluctance in some quarters to welcome female nurses into military hospitals, they proved themselves an asset, both for their nursing expertise, and for their skill in training orderlies of the Army Hospital Corps and later the Royal Army Medical Corps.
My maternal grandmother was a Matron in the QA. My wife was in the QA until I trapped her into marriage. Grandma Edwards was a fearsome figure originally from Southern Ireland. She was a Spiritualist at a time when that religion was fairly widespread and I am told she was a widely respected medium. She was quite spooky and there have been occasions when I have felt that she has reached out to me from wherever she may have gone after the last V2 to land in London put an end to her earthly existence.
The current generation of Army nurses are doing sterling work in Afghanistan. Due to disastrous decisions in the past, the QA and RAMC had been reduced and military hospitals closed and the majority of Army medical staff in Afghanistan are TA personnel serving away from their civilian hospitals.
So - a belated "Respects Ma'am" to Flo and those she inspired.