Nursing Notes & Midwives’ Chronicle, February 1916: Conscription Not the Only New Law

This blog post was prepared by Autumn, one of our archive’s previous volunteers, and features related images from our archive collections.


 

Horlick's Malted Milk Tablets advertisment from the February 1916 issue of Nursing Notes
Horlick’s Malted Milk Tablets advertisment from the February 1916 issue of Nursing Notes.

In the month that saw the Military Service Act 1916 bring conscription in Great Britain into effect, Nursing Notes looks at the passing of legislation more directly relevant to its readership, as well as at the previous year in medicine.

Press clipping from the Royal Maternity Charity scrapbook (RCMS/81/1) Originally published in the “City Press”, 23rd December 1916. The advertisement reads: While Helping New Friends, do not Desert Old Ones. THE ROYAL MATERNITY CHARITY OF LONDON (Founded 1757.) Patron: H.M. QUEEN ALEXANDRA. THE WAR is bringing an ever-increasing number of poor married women, and especially wives of Reservists (Navy and Army) Special Reserve, and Territorials, seeking the help of the Charity, and Funds are Urgently Needed to meet the strain. The annual income is greatly crippled by the Interest payable on the LARGE DEBT TO THE BANK. Please help such a deserving cause in this crisis. Over 850 wives of Sailors and Soldiers have been helped, after due inquiry into their circumstances, since the outbreak of War. Cheques should be crossed "Coutts & Co., A/C Royal Maternity Charity." MAJOR G. L. B. KILLICA, Secretary. Offices 31, Finsbury Square, E.C.
Press clipping of an appeal for donations from the Royal Maternity Charity (RCMS/81/1) It was originally published in the “City Press”, 23rd December 1916. The advertisement reads: While Helping New Friends, do not Desert Old Ones THE ROYAL MATERNITY CHARITY OF LONDON
(Founded 1757.)
Patron: H.M. QUEEN ALEXANDRA.
THE WAR is bringing an ever-increasing number of poor married women, and especially wives of Reservists (Navy and Army) Special Reserve, and Territorials, seeking the help of the Charity, and Funds are Urgently Needed to meet the strain.
The annual income is greatly crippled by the Interest payable on the LARGE DEBT TO THE BANK. Please help such a deserving cause in this crisis. Over 850 wives of Sailors and Soldiers have been helped, after due inquiry into their circumstances, since the outbreak of War.
Cheques should be crossed “Coutts & Co., A/C Royal Maternity Charity.”
MAJOR G. L. B. KILLICA, Secretary. Offices 31, Finsbury Square, E.C.

The leading article “Annus Medicus, 1915” is, as you’ve probably already gathered, a summary of what happened in the field of medicine in the previous year. So, what did happen? The focus on the prevention and cure of diseases in the army and the treatment of combat wounds led to important work being done in the field of wartime medicine, albeit having taken away attention from other medical fields. Due to the war, there was an increased prevalence of conditions that had hitherto been rarely seen. Nowadays it feels like we’re really familiar with terms such as “trench-foot” and “dysentery” being used in association with the First World War, so it’s interesting to realise that at the time these conditions went from being little known to becoming part of the vernacular over a very short period of time. As for the field of public health, the movement for the improved health of mother and child was aided by the passing of the Notification of Birth (Amendment) Act. Under the Act it was now compulsory to give notification of births.

Clipping from the scrapbook of the Royal Maternity Charity (RCMS/81/1) taken from the 25th March 1916 issue of the Nursing Times. The cutting reads: WASHING THE MOTHER AND BABY MIDWIFE correspondents from different London suburbs tell us that it is not only the doctors who leave the after-care of mother and infant to the tender mercy of handy-women, but trained and inspected midwives are also inclined to do the same when they can, in order to save their time and get in more cases. This method of working may be all right where the handy-woman is really an expert and knowledgeable, but it will be noted that the London County Council's suggestion to the C.M.B. for the new Rules included the following: instead of "a midwife shall be responsible for the cleanliness," the new Rule should read: "The midwife shall properly wash and cleanse- the mother and child after birth and during the lying-in period." This would prevent negligent midwives leaving such washing to person whose attendance may be a danger to mother and child, as transpired in the recent Bracey case before the C.M.B., some of whose "letter” patients were only washed by the midwife if an extra fee was paid. From another part of London we hear that the handy-women get so much work from certain midwives that if a reliable independent midwife does all for her patients the same handy-women feel aggrieved and think they are being done out of employment!
Clipping from the scrapbook of the Royal Maternity Charity (RCMS/81/1) taken from the 25th March 1916 issue of the Nursing Times. It discusses the responsibilities of midwives in ensuring the hygiene of mothers and newborn babies. The cutting reads: WASHING THE MOTHER AND BABY Midwife correspondents from different London suburbs tell us that it is not only the doctors who leave the after-care of mother and infant to the tender mercy of handy-women, but trained and inspected midwives are also inclined to do the same when they can, in order to save their time and get in more cases. This method of working may be all right where the handy-woman is really an expert and knowledgeable, but it will be noted that the London County Council’s suggestion to the C.M.B. for the new Rules included the following: instead of “a midwife shall be responsible for the cleanliness,” the new Rule should read: “The midwife shall properly wash and cleanse- the mother and child after birth and during the lying-in period.” This would prevent negligent midwives leaving such washing to person whose attendance may be a danger to mother and child, as transpired in the recent Bracey case before the C.M.B., some of whose “letter” patients were only washed by the midwife if an extra fee was paid. From another part of London we hear that the handy-women get so much work from certain midwives that if a reliable independent midwife does all for her patients the same handy-women feel aggrieved and think they are being done out of employment!

“Women’s Maternity Unit for Russia” describes how the National Union of Women’s Suffrage has put together a Maternity Unit called the British Women’s Hospital and sent it out to Petrograd in Russia, where there are over a million refugees from Poland and other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe. The unit will staff a new maternity hospital that is to be built for the benefit of these many fugitives.

“Midwives Act, Scotland” gladly reports that the Bill has now become law north of the border, but not without pointing out that it’s taken Scotland the 13 years since the passing of the Midwives Act in England to decide it also wants such legislation. The article’s writer hopes that Ireland would follow suit soon after.

In the return of “London Notes by a Rambler”, we are this time taken by our Ramblers to Fleet Street and The Temple. The piece mentions how two of the windows of the Church of St. Mary-le-Strand, a church that to this day stands at the north of The Temple, were destroyed in the Zeppelin raid of October 1915. It goes on to focus on No. 17, Fleet Street, a 17th century building that was in its time used as a Council Chamber. An illustration of this building is one of two images accompanying the article, the other being a postcard image of Oliver Goldsmith’s Tomb in the Inner Temple.

The latter part of the issue concerns itself with topics directly affecting midwives. For instance, “Threatened Abortion. The Midwife’s Duties and Responsibilities” starts with listing conditions that can directly or indirectly lead to abortion. In this context, “abortion” seems to mean “miscarriage”, with “criminal attempts to procure abortion” being listed separately from medical reasons for an aborted pregnancy. The article also describes the various types of abortion, namely threatened abortion, missed abortion and incomplete abortion.

Ending on a lighter note, there’s a joke in the “Notes by the Wayside” section that starts with “Two Hungary soldiers entered a restaurant and ordered Turkey without Greece.” I won’t tell you the punch line, mainly because I don’t understand it, but the last word is “Bagdad” (sic). I’m sure it was hilarious back in 1916.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s