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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences

Chapter LV. — Passing Over of Military Hospitals

page 251

Chapter LV.
Passing Over of Military Hospitals.

Early in 1922, the Military Hospitals in Rotorua, Pukeora, and Hanmer, were placed under civil control, under the administration of the Health Department. This, of course, involved no further work for me as in my capacity of Matron-in-Chief, the supervision of all these hospitals, staffing, etc., came into my duties and were merely transferred to me as Director Division of Nursing, and Assistant Inspector of Hospitals. The military staffs changed over to civil, and carried on as before.

The pay, of course, reverted to civil scale but was carefully calculated with some allowance for the long War service of the senior sisters. The rates were as follows:—

Matrons, £330 to £350 with £10 annual increments; sub-matrons, £240 to £250 with £10 annual increments; sisters, £170 to £230 with £10 annual increments; staff nurses, £150 to £170 with £10 annual increments; head massuese, £250 to £270; massage staff, £170 to £240.

All these with deductions for board. Twenty-eight days annual leave is allowed and an allowance of £8 for uniform.

With regard to annual leave, years ago I had represented that nurses, whose work was on different lines to other Government servants, whose annual leave was two weeks and after certain service, three weeks, needed longer leave, and this had been allowed for all our Government hospitals.

page 252

Under civil control the number of orderlies were reduced and the term V.A.D., which was certainly not appropriate to the young women helping in the hospitals, and receiving quite good pay, was discontinued. I suggested “Hospital Aid,” and this is now the official name for the untrained staff.

I endeavoured to obtain for this service, young women of a good class. Most of the V.A.D.'s remained under the new conditions. They were expected to take on the ordinary duties of nursing probationers, and when later at King George V. Hospital, probationers were taken for training, all associated together and their work was regarded as equally honourable and important.

Trentham Hospital passed over on March 31st, at midnight. A rather amusing story related to me was as follows:—

“Equipment in each ward was to be checked and received from the Military Authorities by the Health Department officials. Some of the wards could not show full equipment, but Sergeant-majors, and the orderlies were equal to the occasion. As soon as the officials had passed through one ward, the necessary equipment was hurriedly transferred to the next, so that apparently nothing was missing.” This, I believe, was a well-known trick in military service.

During the years since my retirement, Trentham Hospital has been closed entirely, and changes have been made in most of the hospitals, but, of course, do not come into the scope of this book.