|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 2nd July 1948, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Health Services to be Replaced
But Some Find New Scope
Although Rushden has had no major hospital under its own administration, the health and attendant social services which the town and Higham Ferrers have maintained for many years will take a lot of replacing when the National Health Act comes into effect next Monday.
Though local schemes which have served the district well for many years will be superseded by official provisions, the spirit of voluntary service will not be banished altogether. Some of the committees have found new ways of helping the community and will pursue them with the full approval of the public.
Institutions affected by the transfer of services to the Ministry of Health include Rushden House Sanatorium, the Tuberculosis After-Care Committees of Rushden and Higham Ferrers, the Nursing Associations of the two towns, and the Rushden Hospital Fund.
The Home hospital in Hayway, which Rushden has been trying so hard to establish as a war memorial, comes into the reckoning also, and on it hinges the future of the little Cottage Hospital in Griffith Street.
Rushden Hospital Fund will discontinue its work as a contributory scheme for hospital treatment, transport of patients, and the purchase of spectacles and surgical appliances. Under the new name of the Rushden Contributory Fund however, it will function on a smaller scale to provide cash benefits during illness and conveyance for people visiting patients in Northampton General Hospital.
The old fund opened in 1922 as the Rushden Trades Hospital and Convalescent Home Fund. It was a copy of the scheme started in Northampton by the late James Gribble, the Trade Union leader, who attended the inaugural meeting in the Co-operative Hall.
At first the works employee contributed a penny a week, to which the employer added one shilling per annum. In 1943 the employee’s contribution was increased to three-pence a week.
Up to 1943 this fund had transferred £39,000 to Northampton General Hospital, where 12,000 Rushden patients had been treated. It then took under its wing the older-established Rushden Hospital Week Fund, and in the next five years £19,828 was sent to the hospital. In those five years, also, £1,580 was paid for motor ambulance transport, £306 for spectacles, and £251 for surgical appliances.
Much of the work carried on for a good many years by the Tuberculosis After Care Committees will now be in other hands, but the need for the personal touch in such work has had official recognition, and the local committees remain in being. They rank as sponsored bodies under the County Council, but will no longer receive any official grant.
The County Council, moreover, has suggested that the old Nursing Associations should amalgamate with them as general care committees to undertake general visiting and care of elderly people and cases of chronic sickness.
Up to the present no amalgamation of this kind has taken place in the county.
Higham Ferrers Nursing Association, established in 1922, has taken steps preliminary to the winding-up of its good work, but the allocation of its considerable financial balance has not yet been decided.
Rushden Nursing Association has not made any announcement about its plans, but, in common with all similar associations, it will lose its administrative functions on Monday, when the district nursing service transfers to the County Council.
The association has operated for something like half a century, and has lately maintained three nurses, two of whom are certified midwives. It has drawn part of its income from a factory fund, but has been working on a small financial margin, and the present balance cannot be other than slight.
As to Rushden Home Hospital, the establishment of which has been attended by every imaginable difficulty, it is now understood that the Ministry of Health, through the Oxford Regional Hospital Board, will take it over on Monday. Several thousand pounds have been contributed by the townspeople in the earnest hope that Rushden would at last enjoy the advantage of a local hospital service, however limited at the outset. The intentions of the Regional Board remain to be seen, but it is greatly to be hoped that the town’s aspirations will be respected. Much of the money subscribed is held in trust, and the existence of this fund may have some influence upon the course of events.
The little Cottage Hospital in Griffith Street, administered by charity trustees, has lately gained a new lease of life as a centre for electrical and other treatment under the direction of Northampton Hospital. It appears almost certain, however, that this service will be transferred to the hospital in Hayway.
Although the officers have made inquiries, the committee of the Rushden and District Clubs’ Fund for the Blind and Crippled Children has not received much guidance about the future of its work. It is felt, however, that plenty of scope will remain.
Rushden House Sanatorium, which for 27 years has been the county’s chief centre for the treatment of tuberculosis, is coming under new management, and the controlling sub-committee of the County Council has already held its “farewell” meeting. Rushden has had no direct responsibility for the “San,” and the change-over will scarcely be noticed in the town. The social co-operation so gladly given by the townspeople will no doubt be accepted as gratefully in the future as in the past.
Motor ambulance associations in Northamptonshire will continue to function as at present, but their income, instead of being derived from fees and subscriptions, will be supplied by the County Council at the rate of a shilling a mile for journey’s made and £100 per annum for each ambulance.