New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
At the Alamein period a new appointment of Consultant Surgeon to Eighth Army was made by the RAMC, and Colonel C. Donald was appointed to the position. This enabled the army in the field to have a consultant available at all times, both to observe the work of the forward operating units and to help by advice and, at times, by spelling exhausted personnel. The appointment proved highly beneficial in all ways partly, no doubt, due to the experience and personality of Colonel Donald, who was especially fitted for the post.
Colonel Donald stated that he considered it of more importance to stay with field units during fighting than to spend time at base hospitals where there was more supervision. He pointed out that forward surgeons had to deal with the worst cases and that a consultant surgeon, in addition to clinical aid, could help not only by checking the natural over-enthusiasm of the relatively inexperienced, but also by heartening them at the inevitable occasional periods of depressing results.
The New Zealand consultant surgeon, Colonel Stout, was attached to the New Zealand CCS before the battle of Mareth and from then on till the campaign was over. He entirely agreed with Colonel Donald that the forward operating unit was the proper place for the New Zealand consultant surgeon during active operations. There he could undertake the responsible duty of examining and evaluating casualties in the pre-operation ward, could be available for advice and assistance to the surgeons, both in the operating theatre and in the wards, and was able to sort out cases for evacuation. He could also gain valuable knowledge of forward surgery and of the capacity page 446 of the surgical personnel, and could take back that knowledge to the base hospitals, thus acting as a valuable liaison between the two sections of the medical services. The tendency to retain consultants at Base largely for administrative duties tended to negative their real value to the force.