The Rushden Echo and Argus, 22nd June, 1945, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Agreed On Home Hospital
Local And County Joint £20,000 Appeal
Rushden is to have its own hospital. A largely-attended public meeting at the Masonic Hall on Monday settled the question by a practically unanimous vote.
The resolution was as follows: “That the town of Rushden shall raise as a war memorial the sum of £20,000 to be equally divided between the Northampton General Hospital Extension fund and a fund for the provision of a Rushden Home Hospital.”
The meeting was called by the Chairman of the Rushden Urban Council (Mr. H. Waring), who announced that the factory workers had expressed by an overwhelming vote their readiness to contribute 3d. per week (additional to their present subscription for hospital treatment at Northampton), the money to be used for the joint appeal until the target is reached, and thereafter for the maintenance of the Home Hospital. About 5,000 participated in the ballot; 4,451 (89 per cent.) were in favour, 514 were against, and 87 did not return their forms.
Those who voted against, the Chairman explained, were non-residents of Rushden who were covered by hospital schemes in their own towns.
Mr. Waring also read a resolution, dated January 29th, from seven medical practitioners, conveying their opinion that a home hospital in Rushden would serve a useful purpose but would not materially lessen the calls on Northampton General Hospital or obviate the travelling of patients and visitors to Northampton.
Mr. John White outlined the Northampton Hospital Extension Appeal, of which he is the local vice-president. The scheme, he said, was going extraordinarily well in other parts of the county. The Rushden Boot Manufacturers’ Association had promised their support to this appeal, but he was certain they would give the same support to a joint scheme which would give an opportunity of showing gratitude to the men who fought and appreciation of the magnificent hospital which had served the district so long.
The prospect of a joint appeal being put forward had somewhat held up the flow of donations to the Northampton appeal at Rushden, but about £5,000 had already been subscribed.
“The majority of the people are waiting for this meeting before they contribute,” added Mr. White.
Coun. T. W. Cox said that from now onward assuming that the joint scheme was adopted the money would be equally divided between the two appeals.
Mr. A. W. Head: Surely anyone could donate to one or the other as he wished.
Mr. White: We could not preclude anyone from doing so, but I think if the scheme is carried through according to this ballot the money will be obtained. I don’t think there is any fear of that.
In the absence of Dr. D. G. Greenfield, who was ill, the case for a home hospital was presented by Mr. J. M. Bailey, M.C., M.B.E., who described the work of the small committee of investigation under Dr. Greenfield’s chairmanship. Medical authorities who had been consulted were distinctly benevolent and thought the scheme was good and sound providing that the hospital covered an area large enough to warrant a sufficient number of beds.
The most likely building in the town for conversion into a hospital was Mr. G. H. Claridge’s house in Hayway. It had large rooms and windows of the right type, and was well situated. They anticipated they could start with 12 beds without great structural alterations.
The sum verbally suggested for the purchase of the house and grounds was £5,000.
There had been left to Rushden various sums of money which were earmarked for the provision of a hospital for the town. It was at first believed that this money was available for the purchase or erection of a suitable building, but the Charity Commissioners had now given a prima facie decision that it could only be used for maintenance. There might, however, be some money forthcoming in a lump sum for spending.
Regarding equipment, Mr. Bailey said a large quantity of surplus hospital requisites should be available at reasonable prices.
Upkeep costs might be in the neighbourhood of £200 per bed per annum.
Mr. Bailey emphasised that a local hospital could not deal with maternity work, infectious diseases or incurables. It would be chiefly useful for illness cases which could not be dealt with satisfactorily in the homes, and for cases from Northampton Hospital not yet well enough to return home.
Mr. C. J. Potton: Mr. Bailey is not so full of enthusiasm as he was some months ago. Does he feel that this is going to be nothing more than a glorified nursing home?
“I am quite as enthusiastic as I was,” replied Mr. Bailey, “but disillusioned. I feel we are still getting value for our money and that it is the best of any of the schemes which might be put forward as a war memorial. I hope it will be a glorified nursing home. Why should nursing homes be only for those who can pay from 10 to 25 guineas a week?”
Mr. F. E. Wood: If cases come from Northampton Hospital to the home hospital, will their own doctors attend them?
Mr. Bailey: I think I am safe in saying that you will be treated by your own doctor in the home hospital.
Mr. J. G. Swart spoke strongly about the fact that electrical apparatus bought for the Cottage Hospital in Griffith-street had not been used.
Coun. W. E. Capon replied that the Cottage Hospital Committee were waiting for Northampton Hospital to tell them it was all in order and to undo two cases of equipment.
Mr. W. Ainge: That confirms that we are too dependent on Northampton, Wellingborough and other places.
The Chairman asked if the hospital would admit dependants of contributors irrespective of age and probable length of stay. - Mr. Bailey said he imagined that entry would be on a doctor’s recommendation through an easily-called emergency committee.
Coun. W. J. Sawford maintained that factory accident and minor cases should be treated in the hospital, and Mr. Bailey agreed that this was highly desirable, though the hospital could only be the temporary abode of hospital cases.
Mr. R. C. Cherry asked why there was so much delay in arranging with Northampton Hospital for electrical and heat therapy to be administered at the Cottage Hospital. Weeks ago, he said, he was assured that the committee was meeting the Northampton doctors and that the question would be settled.
Mr. Capon said there was no difference of opinion now between the Cottage Hospital Committee and Northampton as to the conditions governing the treatment of patients.
The Chairman mentioned an occasion when he was asked to ‘phone for a local doctor to attend a person who died from gas poisoning. He rang every surgery in Rushden and Higham Ferrers, but not one doctor was available.
Mr. C. H. Blunsom asked how the scheme would link in with the Government’s White Paper.
Mr. F. J. Sharwood asked if the scheme had received any official encouragement in connection with the Government’s plan for regional hospitals.
Mr. Bailey replied that an official told the committee of investigation that the hospital would serve a very good purpose and might be taken into the regional plan if it fitted in. The official view was that the hospital should serve a population of 30,000 or 35,000, so if they wanted to be included in a future scheme it would be necessary to show the benefit to the neighbouring town so that they joined in.
“If we don’t adopt the home hospital now, I firmly believe it will be Rushden’s last opportunity to have a hospital at all,” declared Mr. Bailey.
Answering Mr. Swart, Mr. Marriott said a maintenance income of £3,000 was promised under the contributory scheme.
Asked by Mr. H. Rice what would become of the Cottage Hospital, Mr. Bailey said it was hoped to sell it and use the money towards the home hospital, taking the apparatus there.
Mr. Capon said there was about £5,000 in the hands of the Charity Commissioners. With other money available, including the sale of the Griffith-street property, the total would be £7,000, which at 3 per cent. would yield £200 annually.
Mr. Potton suggested an amalgamation with Wellingborough cottage Hospital, but Mr. Bailey said the committee thought this would be dodging the issue.
“Wellingborough started in a small way,” declared Mr. Ainge. “Surely Rushden has as much pluck as Wellingborough has. We have 4,500 who have pledged themselves to maintain the hospital at 3d. per week. What are we waiting for.”
The resolution inaugurating the joint appeal was then moved by Mr. Ainge and seconded by Miss D. Tassell.
Mr. Charles Smith spoke for the Boot Operatives Union, whose members, he said, had always been in favour of a local hospital. He had lived in Rushden nearly 60 years, and during that time there had always been the need for a hospital.
Mr. Swart suggested that shopkeepers and others who had not been mentioned were quite willing to make annual contributions which might double the income.
Mr. L. W. Bradshaw said the Rushden Hospital Committee would be pleased to further the interests of the scheme and assist in collecting these other subscriptions.
When the vote was taken only one person withheld support of the resolution.
The following were appointed as an Appeal Committee: Coun. Waring (Chairman), Mr. J. White (Vice-Chairman), Mrs. Muxlow, Mrs. R. W. Norman, Mrs. W. Robinson, Messrs. W. E. Capon, A. H. Whitton, W. Ainge, E. A. Sugars, A. C. Allen, F. J. Sharwood, T. W. Cox, F. G. Dean, G. W. Marriott and J. M. Bailey.
It was agreed that the factory contributions should start on the first pay day in July, when the Red Cross subscriptions will have ceased.
The committee for the administration of the Home Hospital, it was decided, is to consist of representatives from the British Legion, Boot Operatives’ Union, Trades Council, Boot Manufacturers’ Association, Cottage Hospital Committee, Co-operative women’s Guild, Hospital Fund, medical profession, Ministers’ Fellowship, Nursing Association, Rotary Club, St. John Ambulance, St. John Nursing sisters, Urban Council, United Clubs, W.V.S., Toc H., Friendly Societies and Motor Ambulance Association. From this committee which is expected to number about 43, a management committee will be chosen.
Apologies for absence were received from three members of the original committee of investigation. Dr. Greenfield, Ald. A. C. Allen (who is standing as a Parliamentary candidate in Leicestershire) and Mr. W. L. Beetenson.