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Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences

Chapter XLI. — Attempt to Send Unqualified Women as Nurses to Egypt

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Chapter XLI.
Attempt to Send Unqualified Women as Nurses to Egypt.

Soon after I returned I found that a movement was on foot, started by a Christchurch woman, to send a number of untrained women away to Egypt to act as nurses in our hospital there. She had stated that we were short of nurses, and had appealed for subscribers to finance the expedition. She had obtained a certain amount of financial support, and was endeavouring to obtain the aid of the Government in sending this contingent of about 25.

Dr. Valintine, who was then acting in a military capacity, as Colonel Valintine, seemed inclined to assist. She had a most persuasive manner, and put forth her views in a convincing way. The Nurses' Association, headed by Miss Thurston, the Matron of the Christchurch Hospital, addressed a protest to Dr. Valintine against sending the unqualified women (as it happened, two qualified nurses had joined, but one withdrew), and I just arrived in time to show that as plenty of V.A.D.'s were to be found in Egypt, and as many of the nurses sent in the latest contingents were then billetted in an hotel in Cairo awaiting work, it was quite unnecessary to send these women. I also represented that apart from nursing work, it was most inadvisable to send women to work in Egypt. It would lower the prestige of the British to allow our women to do domestic work, for which plenty of Arabs were available.

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Being disappointed of Government aid, Miss—was determined to get away and went off to Australia with her young women, and by persistent representations eventually got as far as Egypt and were drafted into various hospitals as V.A.D.'s, also to serve in canteens.

The one trained nurse who had gone with the party left them when she realised the position, and later joined the Scottish Women's Hospital in Serbia, where Dr. Agnes Bennett was in command, and did excellent work there.