New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Strength of Units—Other Ranks
Strength of Units—Other Ranks
The strength of the medical units as regards other ranks at 21 August 1943 (before posting of the 10th Reinforcements) was:
|1 Gen Hosp||183||154|
|2 Gen Hosp||148||115|
|3 Gen Hosp||183||164|
|23 Fd Amb (Camp Hosp)||76||63|
|4 Fd Amb||177||140|
|5 Fd Amb||177||145|
|6 Fd Amb||177||157|
|4 Fd Hyg Sec||24||22|
|6 Div Hyg Sec (Base)||28||12|
|102 Mob VDTC||10||9|
|SMO Office (Maadi Camp)||3||3|
|Medical Stores Depot||7||6|
|1 Conv Depot||9||10|
|2 Rest Home||10||10|
|3 Rest Home||2||2|
|2 Transfusion Unit||2||2|
|Railway Group (attached)||3||1|
|Forces Club (attached)||2||1|
A number of the members of the different units were on the sick list, but if they were added to the posted strength there was still a shortage of 70 men.
Staff changes during the year were considerable, partly because of furlough drafts, and partly because of the policy of giving sisters and voluntary aids a change by posting them to other New Zealand page 476 general hospitals. Staff changes at 1 General Hospital during 1943 are shown in this table:
|Marched in||Marched out|
|Other Ranks (furlough only)||68|
At the end of the year the hospital was considerably short of staff, and this entailed harder work and longer hours. Deficiencies in establishment were 9 medical officers, 11 voluntary aids, and 44 other ranks. Some twenty-six graded men had filled vacancies caused by the departure of other ranks, but Colonel Pottinger was not very satisfied with their ability, making the comment: ‘Once a man is graded his mental outlook seems to alter and very few of the graded men compare favourably with the original members of the NZMC.’
|1 Oct–31 Dec||1 Jan–31 Mar||1 Apr–30 Jun||1 Jul–30 Sep||1 Oct–31 Dec|
|1 Gen Hosp||2094||2159||2615||4868||2581|
|2 Gen Hosp||1792||1128||1385||968||799|
|3 Gen Hosp||3050||630||2186||3216||2269|
|1 Conv Dep||3080||705||1590||1734||424|
|1 Camp Hosp||1273||643||852||1017||500|
|2 Rest Home||253||476||437||387||344|
|3 Rest Home||292||117||131||184||117|
This table of admissions from the month of the Battle of Alamein to the beginning of the period in Italy gives an indication of the steady work base medical units were called upon to perform. Medical cases predominated in number over surgical cases. The number of cases received by each hospital depended largely on the situation of each individual hospital in relation to the line of evacuation from the Division, and also to the proximity of each to base camps. For the latter reason admissions to 1 General Hospital were consistently higher than those to 2 General Hospital (a smaller unit), especially for the quarter July to September 1943 when all 2 NZEF was at Base in Maadi and Mena camps. For much of the period 3 General Hospital admitted mostly other than 2 NZEF patients as it functioned at Beirut after the transfer of the Division from Syria, and at Tripoli after the return of the Division from Tunisia.
Admissions to the Convalescent Depot, 2 Rest Home, Alexandria (for other ranks), and 3 Rest Home, Cairo (for officers) were, of course, almost all transfers from the hospitals. The numbers admitted to Maadi Camp Hospital are rather striking and emphasise the page 477 importance of this unit in dealing with minor cases and relieving the general hospitals.
In the quarter October to December 1942 nearly half (950) of the admissions to 1 General Hospital were cases of infective hepatitis, mostly from the Division in the Alamein line. The incidence of both dysentery and malaria was subsiding at this season. (The accommodation at Helwan had been increased to a crisis expansion of 1250 beds; the sanitary services had been improved by the installation of water carriage and septic tanks; very adequate theatre facilities with steam sterilisers had been installed, as well as excellent radiological and bacteriological facilities and a splint shop. The standards of a first-class civilian hospital had been attained.)
In 1942 1 General Hospital admitted 10,881 patients at Helwan. At 2 General Hospital, with a smaller establishment, there were 6377 admissions in 1942, and at Beirut 3 General Hospital treated 11,306 patients in 256 days. Nor do statistics of the number of patients admitted give the full picture. For instance, at 1 General Hospital the number of out-patients in 1942 was 7310, and 2880 medical boards were completed. Incidentally, it is interesting to note that over 1,000,000 meals were supplied to patients and staff of 1 General Hospital in 1942, the quantity of food and fuel being over ten tons daily, while more than 3600 jobs on repairs and maintenance were completed, some taking only half an hour, others six weeks.
In the October to December 1942 quarter there were increased numbers of convalescents admitted to the Convalescent Depot who had been suffering from infective hepatitis and amoebic dysentery. A number of the hepatitis cases had to have a diet reduced in fats to avoid indigestion. These cases often required prolonged convalescence because of the marked debility following the infection, and relapses were common. The depot admitted 631 battle casualties during the quarter; those admitted in October and November were of moderate or slight severity; those admitted in December were of greater severity and required more dressings, as well as a longer convalescence because of muscle wasting. The majority of convalescents were discharged to the Reception Depot, Maadi Camp, only 5 per cent being transferred to general hospitals for further treatment of their original or for a supervening condition. The location of the Convalescent Depot in Palestine so far from the hospitals in Egypt meant that convalescents were subjected to fatigue and discomfort on the journey to the depot, and this led to consideration of the removal of the depot to a site nearer Egypt. Eventually the depot was moved to Tripoli to be near NZ Advanced Base at Suani Ben Adem, but by the time it was established enemy resistance had collapsed in Tunisia and, like 3 General Hospital, the depot treated British convalescents page 478 including malaria cases from Sicily. In the meantime a detachment of 1 NZ Convalescent Depot left at Kfar Vitkin had moved to Maadi Camp in April and to El Arish in September.
In the summer of 1943, with nearly all 2 NZEF in or near Maadi Camp, the hospital at Helwan found that its medical admissions averaged 1000 for each of the months July, August, and September and that between 500 and 600 beds were constantly occupied by medical cases. During July the hospital worked to its fullest capacity, the total number of patients admitted during the month being 1762, a record for the unit. In spite of the transfer of three convoys each of fifty patients to 2 General Hospital and the departure of a further draft of sixty-six on HS Maunganui on 22 July, the average bed state was 871. There were also many out-patients, 2089 in June and 1110 in July. Medical officers and orderlies from field medical units were attached to the hospital during the month for clinical training and to augment the staff during this busy period.
Apart from the typhoid outbreak, there was an easing of medical work at Helwan in the last quarter of the year with the onset of autumn and the movement of the Division to Italy. A special mental block was opened at the hospital at this time and relieved the hospital staff of a great deal of worry, as well as providing very satisfactory facilities. Trained male nurses had complete control of the nursing of patients in this block.
While 2 General Hospital at El Ballah passed through a fairly quiet period after the end of the campaign in Tunisia, 3 General Hospital had a strenuous time in the heat of the summer at Tripoli. Patients were first admitted into its tented wards there on 10 April, and 740 battle casualties and 1446 other cases (865 medical) had been admitted by the end of June. The next quarter was a very busy one with 3216 admissions, of whom exactly half were surgical, including 679 battle casualties from Sicily after the invasion in July. In the medical cases there were 851 cases of malaria, mostly from British troops in Sicily.
In the year 1943 at Helwan 1 General Hospital admitted 12,642 patients to bring the admissions for its twenty-eight months at Helwan to 26,244, which was 937 per month or about 30 a day. Of the admissions for 1943, 2 NZEF patients comprised 71·07 per cent, British Army and RAF 24·95 per cent and others 3·97 per cent. Deaths in hospital in 1943 were 39, or ·308 per cent of admissions. During the year 1999 medical boards were completed, an average of over 38 a week.page 479
|E and ENT disease||171||74||120||87||105||60||81||69||89||253||311||237||1,657|