Important changes at the Hospital after an interesting but difficult year

The war’s end meant changes for Newbury District Hospital.

Newbury District Hospital : The Thirty-Fourth Annual Report and Balance Sheet for 1918

For the year ending December 31st, 1918:

There have been important changes at the Hospital during the past year, and in many respects, the period under review has been an interesting but difficult one.

Miss Atkins, whose services as Matron are well known to the Subscribers, left in August last to be married. Having regard to her long arduous and successful work in the Hospital the Committee took upon themselves to present her, on behalf of the Subscribers, with a sum of £25 on leaving. The Subscribers are asked to ratify this grant.

Sister Biddle also left in August to take up another engagement. Miss Atkins was replaced, as Matron, by Miss Phoebe Jones, whose testimonials were of a very high character. She entered on her duties at a time when the work was very heavy, and as the Nursing Staff, for some time afterwards, was very inadequate, the Committee recognise that her position was a difficult one. Every effort was made to replace Sister Biddle, and to put the Staff on a satisfactory footing in other respects, but it was not until October that the situation was somewhat relieved by the engagement of Sister White.

Shortly afterwards the outbreak of Influenza put a further strain on the Hospital, as a large number of cases of pneumonia were received. Practically all the Probationers were laid up by Influenza, and to add to the difficulties the Matron herself was attacked, and after being laid up in the Hospital for some time was obliged to go away to recruit.

During her absence Sister White was in charge and proved herself efficient, but it became obvious that the Staff was over worked, and must be strengthened as soon as the general scarcity of Nurses would allow it.

On the advice of the Matron the Committee, late in the year, authorised advertisements for a third Sister, and some other additions to, and alterations in, the Nursing Staff. As it was not possible to make this addition immediately it became necessary to relieve the Staff by closing one of the Annexes, and reducing the number of Soldiers in the Hospital for some weeks. Throughout this period the domestic Staff was, as it still is, a source of anxiety, it being necessary to depend to a great extent on temporary assistance.

It will be seen from the statistics annexed that notwithstanding these difficulties, an unusually large number of Patients were treated in the Hospital during the year. As compared with 1917 Civilian Patients increased by 104 and Soldier Patients by 38. It would have been impossible for the small staff to cope with this work without the help of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment and some other ladies, all of whom rendered most valuable assistance.

Since the retirement of Dr. Heywood, Dr. Kennedy has been responsible for Soldier Patients, Dr. Adams giving his assistance as regards surgical matters when required.

The Rev. W. S. Edgell undertook the duties of Hon. Secretary on the retirement of Mr. Savill in April.

The Committee has again to acknowledge the general interest in the Hospital evidence by the gifts of vegetables, supplies and other useful articles throughout the year. The Newbury War Hospital Supply Depot has again furnished many requisites, and Miss Wasey again organised a successful Pound Day and also presented fittings for the Anaesthetic room. Mrs. Wombwell, Mrs. Rooke and Menstone House School made very liberal donations for the entertainment of the Soldiers at Christmas. Mr. Wombwell, Mr. R. Beynon, Mr. Hogg, Mr. Cotterell, Mr. Johnson and others shewed their interest by gifts and in other ways.

Hearty thanks are due to all the members of the Medical Staff, upon whose time the Hospital has made large demands.

The Committee also desire to thank Mrs. Sharwood-Smith, the Commandant, and the Officers and ladies of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment, who have done very valuable work.

Miss Cecile Boldero, the Assistant Commandant (latterly Commandant) was most helpful in the difficulty caused by the deficiency in the regular Nursing Staff.

Miss Salway has again given massage and special treatment to Soldiers, for which the Committee are most grateful, and thanks are due to Mr. Alleyne for taking charge of the recreation room.

Thanks are also due to the former and present Matrons, and the Sisters, and Nurses, for their services during a very strenuous year. In addition to their heavy nursing duties they have had to meet difficulties in catering, and the want of a permanent and sufficient domestic Staff. The economic results of their efforts are best shewn by the Statistics annexed as to cost per occupied bed, and cost of food per head. Having regard to the great rise in prices the Committee think these figures very satisfactory.

During the past year, and in fact during the war, few repairs and renewals could be done owing to the pressure of work, and a thorough overhauling of the Hospital is required now that the soldiers have gone. A considerable expense will be involved. A sub-committee has been appointed to report on the necessary repairs and renewals and on certain structural alterations. The most pressing work upstairs has been done, but the sub-committee has not finally reported. An important matter to be considered is central heating, and some other mode of heating the passages, etc. this is most desirable, and perhaps necessary, but the expense would be very large. The question of the disposal of the temporary Annexes is under consideration: one of them is now clearly unnecessary, and it is doubtful whether either of them should be retained.

In this connection it may be mentioned that when the soldiers left, the Chairman received from the Southern Command, Salisbury, a cordial letter thanking the subscribers and the committee for the generous provision made for soldiers during the war, and the care bestowed on them.

W. Walton, Chairman

W. S. Edgell, Hon. Sec.

Newbury District Hospital annual report (D/H4/4/1)

Advertisements

Both scout and cadet training should form part of the ordinary curriculum

Berkshire teenagers, whether they were still at school or had left to start work at 14, were encouraged to undertake semi-military training in cadet corps.

The following letters have been referred to us for consideration, viz:

9/3/18, from the Secretary of the County Territorial Association to the Secretary of the Berks Education Committee.
23/3/18, from General Sir R Scallon (Director General’s Department, War Office) to the said Association.
2/4/18, from General Sir H Sclater (GOC in C Southern Command) to the same.

The general effect of these letters is as follows, viz: The
Education Committee are specifically asked:

To give official recognition to the Cadet Companies already raised in the County Boys’ Schools of Windsor and Maidenhead, both of which units are recognised by the War Office and are affiliated to the 4th Royal Berks Regiment.

(Note – It is to be noted that the only other cadet units so recognised by the War Office as operating in the county are The Douai Cadet Company, affiliated to the 4th Royal Berks, and the 2nd and 4th Oxford Cadet CLB Battalions, both affiliated to the KRR. The Reading Cadet Company, affiliated to the 4th Royal Berks, is also mentioned as recognised, but this unit draws its recruits from the Borough rather than the County area.)

To urge upon other school masters the importance of raising cadet companies “in the schools throughout the County”.

It is, further, strongly recommended that a Committee should be formed in the County (Sir Robert Scallon suggesting that the Education Committee should undertake the formation of it) with a view to the development of the cadet movement. This Committee would be composed of the Director of Education (i.e. the Education Secretary), of leading gentlemen in the County who are interested in the movement, of employers of boy labour, of the secretary and representative of the Territorial Association, and of representatives of the volunteers and of labour interests. The functions of the Committee would be the encouragement and co-ordination of cadet corps, boy scouts, wolf cubs, and similar organisations, and would also have regard to boys outside any existing organisation. The Committee would not interfere with existing units. Sir H Sclater remarks that a Committee of this kind has been formed for Worcestershire and that it is doing excellent work.

It is pointed out that “the cadet movement is not a military one”, the aim being “the improvement both in character and physique of the boys”. Organised games should form a large part of the training.
Boys, it is considered by the War Office, should be encouraged to be scouts until aged 14 or 15; they should be cadets until 17, when “they might join Section C or the Volunteers if they are so willing”. Scouts wishing to be cadets need not cease to be scouts.
With regard to secondary schools, the writers suggest that both scout and cadet training should form part of the ordinary curriculum; also that school units should as a rule be grouped together, and not form part of either an adult unit nor of a cadet corps composed of boys who have ceased to attend school.
Corps composed of several school units should come together for the yearly Battalion camp, and be under the command of a suitably qualified man, whether a military officer or not.

We are not clear what “official recognition” of existing cadet companies would imply, or what expenditure by the Local Authority would be involved, or how far this could be legally incurred. Moreover, we are disposed to think that any recognition afforded to cadets should be available for scouts…

The Local Education Authority have no authority over secondary schools not maintained by them. Of boys’ schools so maintained, Wallingford School is the only one without a cadet unit. We recommend that the question of the formation of a cadet company at that school be brought to the notice of the governors with a view to their favourable consideration.

We think that such a Committee as is suggested might do good spade-work locally… Whether the Education Committee should take the lead in this matter, or whether it should be left to the Territorial Association is a matter for consideration. On the whole, having regard to the facts that the cadet movement is definitely non-military and that the Local Education Authority is likely to have increasing opportunities of keeping in touch with the lads, the advantages of the former course seems to us to be greater. On the other hand, the work, if taken over by the Education Committee, must eventually throw greater burdens on a depleted and overworked staff, and the suggested constitution of the proposed committee hardly seems to secure to the Local Education Authority such a voice in the proceedings as would be necessary if public money, assigned for educational purposes, is to be expended.

Report of Cadet Training Sub-committee to Berkshire Education Committee, 27 April 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Tar will only be permitted to be used on roads which are of national importance

Berkshire’s roads and bridges continued to be damaged by the war effort, and it was now hard to find supplies for repair.

Report of the Highways and Bridges Committee, 5 January 1918
MILITARY TRAFFIC

Cumnor Hill and Swinford Bridge Road
Pending further consideration of the question of issuing a Maintenance Requisition for repairs to this road till 31 March next – necessitated by the haulage of bricks from Chawley Works to Witney Aerodrome – the Chief Engineer of the Southern Command has sanctioned exp3enditure up to £100 for immediate repairs, and the necessary materials have been ordered.

Oxford and Faringdon Road
The War Department have confirmed the proposed contribution of £155 towards the cost of repairing the Oxford-Faringdon-Lechlade road, and the works are now in hand.

TAR SUPPLY
Tenders have been obtained for the supply of tar for the year 1918-19. No tar can now be purchased except under licence issued by the Ministry of Munitions; the quantity available for the ensuing year for road purposes will, the Committee are informed, be much restricted and will only be permitted to be used on roads which are of national importance. The application made in December last for the purchase of 20,000 gallons in advance did not meet with success, as the Ministry would then only issue a licence for tar to be used before 31 December 1917. A return has been made to the Road Board of the approximate wquantity of tar required during 1918 for “scheduled roads” (i.e. roads of natonal importance).

BRIDGES
Tyle Mill (no, 125)
The reconstruction of Tyle Mill Bridge was postponed on account of the war, but the Acting County Surveyor now reports that it is in a very serious condition and notices have accordingly been erected to the effect that the bridge is insufficient to carry weights exceeding two tons; and also prohibiting the passage over the bridge of heavy motor cars.

It is understood that the hauling of timber from Ufton Camp to Tyle Mill Siding is contemplated and the attention of the Officer Commanding at the Camp has been drawn to the condition of the bridge.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/21)

No accommodation for convalescent cases

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital was annoyed that their military patients were now to come from Reading rather than Cliveden.

9th November 1917
Letter from Duchess of Connaught’s Hospital.

The Hon. Secretary had a letter from the Officer commanding the Duchess of Connaught’s Hospital Cliveden, stating that consequently the Maidenhead Cottage Hospital would in future receive its Military patients from the War Hospital Reading, being in the Southern Command. It was proposed by Mr. Walker seconded by Mr. F.C. Webster that the Board confirm the resolution dated April 14, 1916 when it was decided to send a letter to the War Office offering 10 beds for surgical cases, and not for convalescents, as there was no accommodation for the same, and this confirmation be communicated to the Officer Commanding the War Hospital Reading, a copy of the original letter for the War Office to be also enclosed.

This resolution was carried.

The Hon. Secretary was requested to write to the War Office on the above subject pointing out the present position and suggesting that this Hospital might be reattached to Cliveden as there was a difficulty in receiving cot cases from Reading.

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital governors’ minutes (D/H1/1/2, p. 348)

Fit to take wounded cases from overseas

The Managing Committee of Newbury District Hospital were pleased that had won their case to continue to take wounded soldiers rather than mere convalescents – but they feared their rivals in Reading were hogging all the most challenging cases.

Thursday July 12th 1917

Letters from Colonel Russel dated the 6th and 9th inst. Were read, and the Hon. Sec. reported that prior to the receipt of the latter letter he had seen the Consulting Surgeon of the Southern Command who had been over the Hospital with him and had expressed himself pleased in all respects and quite satisfied that it was fit to take wounded cases from Overseas as distinguished from Convalescent cases, and had promised to see that the Hospital received its quota of such cases through Reading.

Resolved that no further attempt be made to question the decision of the Authorities as regards affiliation to Reading and that every effort be made to insure that the Hospital does in fact receive from Reading its fair quota of wounded cases as promised, and not convalescent cases.

Resolved further that Messrs Peake, Graham Roberts, and Howard Savill be appointed to act with the Chairman as a small committee to suggest a scheme for working under the new arrangement, including any desirable re-arrangement or apportionment of the Clerical and similar duties involved, and the relief of the Matron from such duties as far as may be practicable.

Newbury District Hospital minute book (D/H4/3/2)

“They wanted the beds badly, but were not in a position to provide the extra cost”

Newbury District Hospital was taking more and more wounded soldiers, and even had to build an extension at their own expense.

Annual General Meeting held at The Newbury District Hospital on Friday March 9th 1917

Committee’s Report

The record of the past 12 months may be told in a few words. Though the year 1916 has been in a sense an uneventful one, having been marked by no additions or alterations to the structure of the hospital, it shows an increase in the amount of work done amongst both civilians and soldiers over all former years. The resources of the hospital have been taxed to the full, as many as 74 beds having been occupied at one time. As in 1915, five convoys of wounded soldiers have been received from the Front. The total of civilian patients, amounting to 365 (not counting X-ray cases) exceeds the number of those treated in the previous year by 10, whilst 63 more soldiers have been treated than in 1915. Of these latter, there has been a considerably larger proportion of severe cases.

When the temporary annexe was put up at the end of 1914 for the reception of the wounded, there were not many who supposed that it would still be in use during a third winter. But the building, in spite of its light construction, has served its purpose well, and beyond some strengthening of the roof, has needed little repair. A sum of about £100 has been spent in painting the outside woodwork of the hospital and in completing the decoration of the Kerby Wing.

Military Hospital

A notice had been given that at the conclusion of the annual meeting a special meeting would be held to pass a resolution for the expenditure of a sum, not exceeding £300, of the capital funds of the Hospital, in providing further accommodation for military patients.

The Chairman, in introducing the subject, said the Medical Officer at Tidworth saw the Matron and asked her to provide further beds, as 25,000 wounded soldiers more would be placed in the Southern Command. It appeared to them that the one hospital especially suited was Newbury as being on the main line for Southampton. The matron pointed out to him the impossibility of further beds in the present building, and that the staff, which was sufficient for the present accommodation, would be too few for a different building. Miss Atkins brought the matter before the Chairman of the House Committee, and the House Committee referred to the Managing Committee.

It appeared at first that the Government might be induced to provide some, if not all of the money necessary. That was not received with enthusiasm by the authorities. The Managing Committee and Mr. Vollar went into the matter thoroughly, and decided that the Army appeal was of such a nature that they could not do otherwise than accept the proposal and the obligation involved. Efforts were made to get the Government to provide the additional cost of an annexe. The hon. Secretary interviewed the Medical Officer of the Southern Command, and he interviewed the War Office. The authorities’ attitude was that they wanted the beds badly, but were not in a position to provide the extra cost. It was pointed out that the hospital as arranged at present was sufficient for the needs of the neighbourhood, and that these extra buildings would only be used for the War Office. They had strong grounds therefore to ask for assistance, but it was definitely stated that they would get no money nor extra doctors or nurses. They decided to do their best. The conditions in the building trade made it difficult to get work done. At a special meeting it was arranged that Mr. Hitchman should do the work, and at once order the materials. He proposed that they authorise the expenditure of not more than £300 out of capital funds of the Hospital, and ratify the action the Managing Committee had taken before the meeting.

Mr. Savill said that he had been in communication with the Medical Colonel, and he could not promise any financial assistance. He did give one concession, and that was that formerly they had received 3s. 6d. per man per week; now it was suggested that 4s. would be paid. They would save £100 for beds and bedding, which would be supplied by Sir Richard Sutton. Mr. Hitchman had been able to get the galvanised iron. The cost would be £300, anything over that amount would have to be paid out of revenue.

Mr. Vollar said Mr. Hitchman had agreed to work on a five per cent profit. He would show his receipts. It was a very handsome and liberal offer on Mr. Hitchman’s part.

The resolution was passed, Mr. Peake seconding, and the meeting concluded.

Newbury District Hospital minutes (D/H4/3/2)

Excessive military traffic: a claim for compensation

Berkshire County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee wasn’t very pleased with the army, which was churning up Berkshire’s roads and hogging the railways.

MAIN ROADS
Certain main roads have been considerably damaged by excessive military traffic, and the cost of repair is estimated at £1,761. as this estimate is only for the damage up to the 23rd November, the Committee ask the Council to authorise an additional expenditure for the current financial year of not exceeding £2,000… The Military Authorities have been informed that a claim for compensation will be made in due course…

Owing to the call on the railways by the Military Authorities there has been a great difficulty in obtaining delivery of materials, and only a small portion of the repairs have so far been carried out…
The Engineer Officer in charge of Roads and Railways, Southern Command, has inspected the road from Reading to Eversley, which is one of the roads damaged, and on which it is understood there will continue to be a great deal of heavy traffic, and a requisition has been received from the Military Authorities for certain repairs to be carried out to the road.

CA Ferard, Chairman, 9th January 1915

Report of the Highways and Bridges Committee to Berkshire County Council (C/CL/C1/1/18)