New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
This was regularly carried out both by the staffs of the general hospitals and also by specially constituted boards at Maadi Camp Hospital where, at first, the consultants acted on the boards till they took over the approval of the boards from the DDMS. From 250 to 500 cases were boarded or reboarded each month. Reboards might take place after three or six months. That the graded men held in base camps were always a problem in Egypt is not surprising considering that a large proportion of them had a functional basis. Suitable employment at Base was difficult to arrange, and deterioration was inevitable when a man had no interest in his work, especially in the debilitating climate. Knowledge of conditions in the forward areas proved highly desirable in the medical men constituting the boards and they had to be carefully chosen.
Attention was drawn to another aspect of the unfitness of troops by CO 2 General Hospital, Colonel Spencer, in July when, referring to the numerous out-patient attendances for opinions of specialists at the hospital, he said:
.… It would appear that COs of units are still very apt to try to get rid of men on medical grounds who are unsuitable as soldiers, or for other reasons. Pressure thus applied on a junior RMO is very difficult to resist. On the other hand, we feel that it cannot be too strongly impressed upon newly appointed RMOs that their mana with their troops depends to a large extent on the care with which they look after them in sickness; that they will not always have consultants handy to whom to refer their cases, and that the sooner they develop independence in diagnosis and initiative in treatment, the quicker they will gain the confidence of officers and men of their unit. The assessment of character is not so easy. Close harmony page 247 between combatant and medical officers is of the greatest value in this respect, but here again the sooner an RMO learns to distinguish between real and feigned illness, the greater will be the respect in which he is held by all ranks.