The National Health Service Act came into effect 75 years ago on 5 July 1948. Changes included local voluntary hospitals being brought into national public ownership and making local authorities responsible for community services such as maternity clinics and district nurses. This spelt the end of the District Nursing Associations, including the one established in Hertford. This was viewed with regret in Hertford and elsewhere.
The Queen’s Institute (who provided trained nurses) wrote asking all Associations to write to their M.P. to uphold the importance of the continuance of the District Nursing Associations. Captain Derek Walker Smith (M. P. for Hertford, 1945 – 1955) received such a letter from the Hertford Association. The Committee continued but was finally wound up in 1953. Minutes of their meetings are held at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies – HALS/DNA/18.
The Hertford District Nursing Association was founded, by Mrs. Robert Smith of Goldings, in 1881 in order to provide skilled nursing for the sick, poor and working classes in their own homes.
It was the first Nursing Association to be formed outside London. After 30 years operation, the Association was asked to cooperate with the Hertfordshire County Council on medical inspection of schools and health visiting and a meeting was held to agree a constitution.
The income of the Association was made up of subscriptions (2 d. per week or 8 shillings a year). Fees for the services of the midwife varied from 10 shillings to 16 shillings, according to the wages earned by the husband. Although the Association received a grant of £25 from Hertford Town Council for health visiting, there was a need for further support. The salary of each nurse was raised from £95 to £100 pa. in 1913 and as their cycles were worn out, it was agreed that a sum of not more than £15.15.0 be spent on new ones.
Fundraising was a regular topic from the first meeting of the Association. In 1911, Mr. Graveson proposed that people in the neighbourhood of Hertford should be asked to allow their gardens to be visited on Thursday in May and June at a small charge and undertook to try to obtain the cooperation of the horticultural society’s committee for this purpose. Another proposal was that envelopes should be left at every house for small contributions and called for by collectors.
A regular event was Daffodil day. It was noted that the collection in 1927 raised £56. 9. 10 d. which was viewed as very good considering the terrible weather. The morning was reported to have been showery and the afternoon “hopelessly wet”. Thanks were recorded to those involved in collecting – “working so gallantly under such unpleasant conditions”. A further £100 was raised by a tombola in November. In 1936, a whist drive, which had been postponed to May owing to King’s death raised £20. 0. 7 d.
1928 saw a reallocation of nurses as a result of the growth of the Bengeo district and Nurse F Barton was appointed. The population grew two years later with the arrival of triplets born to Mr and Mrs Kail of Gosselin Road, Bengeo. Alderman Josiah Wren, initiated a fund to purchase a suitable perambulator which was presented to Mr Kail by the Mayoress of Hertford, Lady Lionel Faudel-Phillips. (Hertfordshire Mercury ,15 August 1930). Unfortunately, Mrs Kail was suffering from an attack of influenza and unable to attend the ceremony. The photograph shows, from the left, Lady Lionel Faudel-Phillips, the triplets father, Mr Kail, Miss Jean Faudel-Phillips, Alderman Wren and Nurse Barton who cared for Mrs Kail.
Expenditure for the Association included accommodation for the Nurses. In 1927, the Nurses’ home moved to 55 North Road. £20 was spent on distempering 3 bedrooms and a sitting room, fixing gas stoves and laying linoleum in one bedroom for use as an office and interview room. A donation of cretonne for sitting room curtains and another for lino for stairs was noted by the Committee. In 1932, £1 was spent putting in a night bell. A telephone was installed there in 1934, with a rental £1. 6. 0d a quarter on the “small – use” basis. Nurses were to pay for calls.
Bicycles continued to need replacing. In 1921, Nurse Wheeler’s new bicycle was stolen. It was decided to sanction necessary repairs to her old bicycle. In 1932, the Committee allowed £3 towards the cost of a new bicycle for Nurse Campion. Unfortunately, she met with an accident the following year, fracturing her left wrist and lacerating her left leg, resulting in a 2 week stay in the County Hospital. £12 was received in compensation from the Law Accident Insurance Company.
In September 1939 the nurses were involved in the reception of evacuees and in May 1940 the Committee agreed that in view of national situation, arrangements for holidays must be cancelled. The Secretary was asked to try to arrange for each nurse to have a week off without leaving the district. It was hoped to provide a relief for October which would give all a week’s rest. In 1941, as there was a need for economy in paper usage, it was decided not to send printed Report and Accounts to members but publish these in the Hertfordshire Mercury.
After the war, bicycles were being replaced. Hertfordshire County Council provided a car for the full time midwife in 1947 also taking care of the maintenance and running. The Hertford Committee thought that hiring when necessary would be more economical. (This might assume that babies elect to be born during working hours?). They agreed that with a car, Nurse Page should no longer receive allowance for a bike.
Nurse Page was also the subject of another innovation. Nurses were single, but in 1948 it was noted that Nurse Page had married during the August holiday and wished to continue as a full time midwife. This had been approved by the County Superintendent and one of the last acts of the Association was to make Nurse Page a present of cutlery worth £8. 5. 0 d.