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Sheffield In 1896 Ada Bermingham, previously at Croydon, wrote Nightingale that she was applying for the matronship at the Sheffield General Infirmary, noting that Nightingale was a governor there. Henry Bonham Carter advised Nightingale not to write her a letter of reference, that she should apply to Spencer or Norris for such a letter.386 Chester In 1902 Edith Mary Addis (see p 276 above), who began training in 1893, became matron at Chester, after having been night superintendent at the Radcliffe Infirmary, assistant superintendent at the Leeds General Infirmary and holding other positions. Scottish Hospitals Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Editor: The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was to become the major branch plant of the Nightingale Fund and School, going on to train nursing leaders who took Nightingale School training to other parts of Scotland and indeed many parts of the world. The start was rocky, for Edinburgh and its infirmary were rough places in the mid-nineteenth century. Nightingale had ‘‘inspected’’ the Royal Infirmary at the request of the hospital authorities when she was in Edinburgh in 1856 or 1857. The distinguished Dr James Syme (1799-1870) took her around, and she was looked after by Mrs (Janet) Porter, a nurse she remembered fondly. Early references to the infirmary, however, resort to the words ‘‘beastly,’’ wretched’’ and ‘‘den of thieves.’’ In a letter in 1858, Nightingale recalled ‘‘painful’’ memories of seeing the wards. The mortality rate among the nurses, she noted, was a good indicator of the sanitary condition of the hospital.387 To her closest collaborator, Dr Sutherland, Nightingale confided, ‘‘Nothing that I have ever known, except the Vienna General Hospital,388 approaches it in badness—medical staff in both cases excluded.’’ The infirmary was a ‘‘lawless place,’’ especially ‘‘drinking, profligate old) night nurses.’’ They were being ‘‘gradually weeded out,’’ Nightingale told a nursing colleague, whose help she was seeking to find a new night 386 Letter to Nightingale 13 December 1896, Add Mss 47728 f13. 387 Letter to R.G. Whitfield 8 November 1858, Florence Nightingale Museum (LMA) H1/ST/NC1/58/6, in Hospital Reform. 388 Nightingale visited Vienna in 1850, but there are no references to the General from that trip; it appears in Women on maternal mortality from puerperal fever (8:288-89 and 352). 304 / Florence Nightingale: Extending Nursing superintendent. It was a task of the senior house surgeon coming on duty to have the ‘‘drunken night nurses carried in on stretchers every night,’’ she explained to the grand duchess of Baden (see p 461 below). It seems that the first approach made to Nightingale about improving nursing in Edinburgh occurred in 1862, contained in a letter from Helen Menzies. Nightingale wrote a note on it: All depends upon whether the persons are what she says. Of course, if the probationers are trained under a bad system of nursing at the infirmary, they will be trained to bad and not to good.389 A longer note states, with no evidence of any follow-up, Before anything further can be done you must have some fixed proposal to make about your nursing and you must be in a position to make the proposal. It does not appear from your note what you intend to do. So far as I can learn, you only desire to improve the nursing in Edinburgh Infirmary, but before you can do this, you must have a position from which to act. It does not appear who is to receive the probationers , or who is to be responsible to them or for them. These are allimportant practical points and until they are settled you could not obtain qualified probationers. There is no obligation on the probationers at St Thomas’ to go anywhere. And the only way would be to write to Mrs Wardroper at St Thomas’, making an offer for the two probationers you require, but it will depend on them to accept your offer.390 The appointment of a new medical superintendent in 1872, C.H. Fasson (d. 1892), seems to have made the difference. He had been surgeon general at the Herbert Hospital, Woolwich, and would have been familiar with Nightingale’s work and views.391 He started in February 1872, and a formal approach for a nursing superintendent and core staff was made in July 1872. The request came from the hospital manager, and later law agent, James Hope.392 Nightingale reported...


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