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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences

Chapter XIX. — Conference of Hospital Boards

page 97

Chapter XIX.
Conference of Hospital Boards.

A very interesting event took place in July, 1911, when a conference of the Hospital Boards of the Dominion was called together, and met in Wellington. The boards wished to discuss together the many points in which their work was affected by the new Act, which had been two years in operation.

A very free discussion was held with a very satisfactory outcome.

Many of the papers read and discussed were of great interest to nurses. In all the schemes put forward, a large share in their working and success was allotted to nurses; in fact, many could not be undertaken at all, were it not that nurses were available to carry them out.

The prevention and cure of tuberculosis was one of the most important discussed, and it was unanimously carried that the scheme outlined by Dr. Valintine should be adopted. I had the privilege of attending this conference and was proud that the value of nurses' services took so prominent a place in the projected work.

Back-blocks district work was the subject of a paper read by the Chairman of the Board which had rst established a nurse. He spoke of the success of the work, and that the people would not now be without a nurse.

Dr. Valintine had asked me to prepare a paper on the Eight Hour System, showing arguments in favour of, and against it. On every question of course, there are page 98 sides. This paper was read by someone, I regret to say I forget who, and it is published in full in Kai Tiaki, together with a long discussion which followed. It was rather amusing to me to listen to the opinion of mere man on this question, and I regretted that there was no matron of a hospital present to give her views. I was called upon to speak, and I do not know how many of the listeners knew I had already given my views in the paper on discussion. One woman member of the Nelson Hospital Board spoke sensibly, and showed that although most of those speaking were not in favour of long hours of work for nurses, they favoured a less rigid application of a rule for eight hour work. Some considered that better nurses had been trained before the system had been instituted, but generally speaking, the Conference did not think it would be wise to go back to the longer hours.

I cannot here go into all that was said, but it is very fully reported in Kai Tiaki of October, 1911.

Another matter on which there was a discussion in which I was asked to speak, was that of the State examination.

The Chairman of the Palmerston North Hospital moved: “That in future the State Nursing Examination should be conducted in its entirety at the hospital where the nurse or nurses are in residence.” He spoke of the dislocation of work when nurses had to leave their hospital to go to another centre for their examination. Also of the expense to the nurse.

I was then asked to give the Department's reasons for holding the State examination in the main centres. I explained the value of the State certificate, and that this depends on the careful carrying out of the examination, page 99 and that if it were carried out anywhere locally, without reservation, the value of the New Zealand certificate would be much depreciated in other countries; that in all Acts for registration of nurses, as well as of other professions, the examining centres are limited.

With regard to expense, I pointed out that the necessity for travelling to a centre would only occur once during the course, and that the nursing profession is the only one during the preparation for which the student is at no expense.

I also emphasised the value to a nurse from a small hospital coming to a large one and having the opportunity of seeing something of its equipment and meeting with other nurses.

Several other speakers gave their views, rather in favour of the central examinations, and the motion was withdrawn.

Since this initial meeting in conference of Hospital Boards, a Hospital Boards' Association has been formed, and meets every year or so. The chairman of this Board has recently been made a member of the “Nurses' and Midwives' Board.” His presence when many matters are brought up for decision by the Registration Board will, I think, be of value in letting a layman know something of the many problems in nursing education.