War Surgery and Medicine
The ophthalmic surgeon was on General Hospital establishment and was entitled to special nursing and clerical assistance only by courtesy of the Commanding Officer and Matron. The appointment of a trained ophthalmic nursing sister to look after cases in the ophthalmic ward was conceded when 1 NZ General Hospital replaced 2 NZ General Hospital at Helwan in August 1941, and then, no doubt, only with some sacrifice of administrative felicity. New Zealand hospitals were peculiar in that the establishment for nursing sisters made no provision and did not recognise the necessity for any specialisation. An excellent clerk was provided for the out-patient department at Helwan, but when No. 1 Hospital settled down among the sandhills of the Northern Adriatic, page 440 it was soon crowded beyond its establishment of beds and the ophthalmologist had to forgo this assistance.
These staffing difficulties were due to the inflexibility of a hospital's establishment, that useful refuge behind which administration could recoil in safety from an exasperated suppliant. If an ophthalmic unit with adequate trained personnel were attached to a hospital, it could move easily from one to another as need might arise and the nursing sister could do dressings in general surgical wards as well as in her own. It is noteworthy in this regard that over half the men with major ocular wounds had other wounds elsewhere, and they could not all, therefore, be segregated in one ward.
At the beginning of 1945 three nursing sisters were sent to Rome to take a special course in ophthalmic nursing organised by Lieutenant-Colonel B. W. Rycroft, RAMC.
While administration worked smoothly throughout the war, the need was felt in Egypt for a relieving ophthalmologist. The quantity of work was exhausting and so unremitting that it was seldom possible for the ophthalmologist to take any leave of absence.