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, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Health Services - Review

The Rushden Echo, 21st April 1967, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Little Chance of Casualty Unit

No matter what the injury, a person involved in an accident in Rushden will have a minimum delay of 20 minutes – more than enough to be fatal – before being admitted to a fully-equipped casualty department.

This is a cold fact people who live in Rushden and Higham Ferrers must accept and live with because there is little or no chance of Rushden ever having its own casualty department.

The reason is purely and simply a question of economics – it would cost too much to be justified.

A suggestion that Rushden should have its own casualty department was made at the committee meeting of Rushden Amenities Society and it was generally decided that the matter should be investigated.

This week the “Echo” saves the society the trouble. We decided to take up the issue and found that not only are small towns like Rushden and Higham Ferrers in this position – expanding larger towns like Wellingborough and Corby are unlikely to get their own casualty departments.


However the “Echo” did learn two things. In neighbouring Wellingborough it has been suggested that there ought to be at least follow-up treatment centres, probably staffed by local GP’s and it has been suggested that industrialists could get together and form and industrial accident centre.

But that is at Wellingborough; no mention was made of Rushden and Higham Ferrers. Well, why not Rushden and Higham?

Why is it that Rushden will never have its own department, despite the fact that the nearest centres are Kettering and Northampton?

The official view was put by Mr. W. A. Dowgill, group secretary of Kettering and District Hospital Management Committee.

He said the Hayway and Rushden Hospital in Wymington Road could not give a 24-hour service because it did not have the equipment or the residential staff.


The committee’s policy where 24-hour service could not be given was for the ambulance pick-up to take the patient to the nearest fully-equipped department. In the case of Rushden that was Kettering or Northampton.

He said Kettering had a centre purely because of its geographical position. It was a central point for Wellingborough, Rushden and Corby.

Mr. Dowgill said the main consideration was a financial one and it just would not be an economic proposition to set up fully operational casualty departments in all urban areas.

A Rushden doctor was asked for his personal opinions and he thought the present facilities were adequate. He said the ambulance pick-ups were extremely fast.


He said an efficient casualty department would have to have X-ray facilities, a blood transfusion centre, operating theatre, a minimum of three doctors, about four sisters and 14 nurses to operate it. The number of casualties locally would not warrant such a centre.

“In my opinion it is better to have a first class casualty department reasonably close, rather than a second rate unit in the town” he said.

He pointed out that a small first aid department would hardly be justified. It too, would need staffing and most local doctors did quite a bit of first aid – such as stitching and removing small particles from people’s eyes in surgery hours anyway.

One man who has a lot of first aid experience, Mr. M. Willey, superintendent of the Higham Ferrers St. John Ambulance Brigade, and first aid officer for John White Footwear, said he had not experienced any major problems with the present system. However, he agreed that anything which could improve the service would obviously be welcomes.


If one takes the cold business like attitude to the problem it is pretty clear that Rushden cannot justify a fully operational emergency casualty department.

Nevertheless there are many people in the town who feel Rushden should have a centre where the less serious injuries could be treated.

Mrs. Pat Penness, chairman of Rushden Second Mother’ Club, which has a membership in the nineties, similar to the first Rushden Mothers’ Club, probably spoke for all mothers with young children when she said she would support a move to get a casualty department in the town.

At the moment, she said, one never knew whether to call for a doctor or an ambulance if somebody was injured.

The “Echo” would leave this thought with its readers: “What price a life.”

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