New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Review of Work at Helwan
Review of Work at Helwan
When 2 General Hospital came to hand over to 1 General Hospital at Helwan, a review was made of the hospital's work over eleven months from October 1940 to September 1941. Total admissions were 9501, and discharges 9212. Patients came from the following forces: 2 NZEF 7598; 2 AIF 1125; British Army 273; RAF 108; RAAF 7; Union Defence Force 19; Royal Navy 1; and Italian prisoners of war 367. Operations performed amounted to 3172. New Zealand deaths were 28 out of a total of 41. Causes of death were battle wounds 6, accidents 6, and disease 29. Outpatient department consultations were given in 6997 cases, with 6446 subsequent visits. There were 2213 massage treatments given.
In his review Colonel Spencer made the following interesting comment:
It took us medical officers many weeks to become acquainted with ways and means, channels of communication, adapting our therapeutic ideas and demands to the supplies available to an Army hospital on active service, particularly in a sphere where supplies were of necessity almost always short. There were times when some felt that medical and surgical considerations page 240 were being sacrificed to the insatiable demand made by some Army department for returns and still more returns. But, as time passed, the reason for these returns became more and more obvious; and now it is realised by all that with a turnover of patients that exceeds by far that of civil hospitals; of patients, moreover, who are here today and gone tomorrow, and whose whole economic future may be altered by the care with which their cases have been recorded while under treatment in hospital, the clerical side of our work has taken on a new interest, and is no longer regarded as a burden.
After the unit had moved from the hospital at Helwan to Maadi Camp temporarily, Colonel Spencer further said:
There is always the danger of a unit becoming too ‘set’, and we realised that the conditions under which we had been working had been as near to those of a civilian hospital as would be possible in an Army on active service. Since the unit moved out to their new camp we are unanimous that the change-over has been for the good of all concerned. Officers and men alike have already lost that feeling of staleness that was becoming apparent due to the sameness of work day after day under the trying conditions of an Egyptian summer. This applied perhaps more to the Other Ranks who had carried the weight of the hospital work, which had to go on whether the staff were up to establishment or not.