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Report on medical care

Page 3 of 4

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We have to notice, in connection with this subject, a striking want in every one of the hospital establishments here, which has been much felt by the medical officers, and which admits of easy remedy. No room has been set apart in any of the hospitals, except the general hospital, for operations. These are necessarily performed in the wards, and in the presence of other patients. Another want felt by the profession is the utter absence of sufficient accommodation for post mortem examinations.

The orderlies have in point of numbers been always amply sufficient. In every other respect, however, except that of mere numbers, we regard this branch of the hospital service as most unsatisfactory. The orderlies are drawn from the ranks, without any regard to their aptitude or their inclination for the employment, and are mostly men whose weak constitution unfits them for the hardships of a campaign, or convalescents who have not sufficiently recovered their health to return to active service. The duties of an hospital orderly are frequently distasteful to them; and the low rate of pay, 4d a day, is not sufficient inducement to them to overcome their repugnance. They are also liable to be sent back to their regiments, and their places are then filled by men of the same character, without the advantage of the experience which their predecessors acquired. We must add, that the general habits of our soldiers do not peculiarly qualify them for a situation requiring great steadiness of conduct; and from the rank of life to which they belong, and the terms of intimacy which naturally subsist between themselves and their patients, they have never the authority to prevent, (seldom the inclination to report) any irregularities which may come under their notice. The ward-masters and assistant ward-masters are generally intelligent and respectable non-commissioned officers; but they do not possess that degree of experience in the duties of their office which ought, in our opinion, to be an indispensable condition to their employment in such a capacity in our military hospitals.

The cooks also are soldiers; and although they may be useful as assistants, we think that they are but indifferently acquainted with the peculiar style of cooking required in hospitals.

The pack storekeepers are non-commissioned officers, but, like all other soldiers, are liable to be ordered off to their regiments.

Besides the above hospital attendants, we have to notice the staff of nurses under the superintendence of Miss Nightingale. That lady arrived at Scutari on the 4th November, accompanied by thirty-eight nurses. These are employed to attend to such cases as the medical officers in charge, and the staff surgeons

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