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Rushden Hospital 1965

The Rushden Echo, 2nd July 1965, transcribed By Jim Hollis

‘Acute’ Staff Shortage at Rushden Hospital

Rushden Hospital is playing an increasingly important part in the off-loading of cases from main general hospitals in the Kettering Management group, but if the present acute staff shortage continues it is likely that the hospital will have to reduce the number of beds available for patients and limit its scope to tubercular and bronchial sufferers.

The long standing shortage of untrained and trained staff at the hospital has been aggravated in the past week by illness among the former, leaving only one of them on duty at the weekend.

This has caused the hospital to close its doors to further patients and Dr. O. E. Fisher, Consultant Chest Physician at the hospital, said they had had to turn down four possible admissions from Kettering because of this.

Matron Mrs. B. Ward explained: “The situation has become far more acute since we started taking in chest cases in addition to tuberculosis.


Dr. Fisher said the immediate problem was probably easing a little and the Matron agreed that she now had three of the untrained staff who were off ill working again.

It seems that the root of the trouble at the hospital is getting hold of trained nurses. No amount of advertising in the nursing Press and locally has produced a response and the situation is now being discussed by the hospital management committee.

There are ten full-time nurses at the hospital and the duty rota for part time staff has to be worked out something like this; five staff two nights a week, three working three nights a week and one for one night a week. This means that with careful planning and co-operation and nobody sick it would be possible for three of these untrained staff to be working on each day of the week except one.

Dr. Fisher explained: “We are unable to recruit anyone because the nursing demands are far heavier now than they were in the days when we just admitted tubercular cases.

More Nurses

“If we are not able to get more nurses and the increase in patients continues we shall have to consider reducing the number of in-patients to those with tuberculosis and short-term chest investigation cases.”

He emphasised that the hospital would be extremely reticent to do this and it was not likely to happen in the near future. It was an extreme retrograde step but nevertheless one that might have to be taken.

In 1954 total admissions at the hospital were 176; of these 154 were tuberculosis cases. Total admissions last year had risen to 319 but only 72 of these were tuberculosis cases. The hospital has 71 beds and eleven for skin cases.

The shortage of staff at the hospital was first referred to by Mr. A. C. A. Colton, chairman of Rushden TB After Care Committee, when he appealed for more staff at the annual dinner of the Rushden Factories and Works Darts League last Friday.

1965Rushden Echo, 16th July 1965

A view of the wards at Rushden Hospital, where there is a shortage of staff. Temporary staff have been taken on to help out and the hospital is admitting patients again after a period when it was unable to do so. The matron, Mrs B Ward, commented: “The position has eased slightly and we have got temporary help. But we have had little response to our appeal for staff........ We are admitting a few cases now.”

The Rushden Echo, 1st October 1965, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Mental Home? - Possible change of chest hospital

The “Echo” can reveal this week that there is a possibility of Rushden losing its chest hospital in Wymington Road. If the idea, and it is only an idea at the moment, is carried through the hospital will care for mentally sub-normal patients.

Inquiries this week have revealed that suggestions for this change of use have been discussed at the Oxford Regional Hospital Board meetings.

Mr. George Watts, secretary of the Regional Board, told the “Echo” that only mentally sub-normal patients and not potentially dangerous psychiatric patients would be considered for Rushden Hospital if any plans were made to change its use.


He stressed that any suggestions for the change of use were “very tentative” although members of the board had discussed the possibility.

However, Mr. Watts said: “We have not put any proposals to the Kettering Management Committee.

It had been recognised that a new hospital for mental patients was going to be built at Upton but the board would still be short of beds for mentally sub-normal patients. “There is a waiting list,” he said.

Mr. W. A. Dowgill, Kettering hospital management group secretary, confirmed that the suggestion had been “aired” in discussions but there had been no definite proposal from the board.

It had never been suggested what would happen to the chest unit at Rushden, which was the chest unit for the whole county.

It was possible that the chest unit would be moved to Creaton where the present unit would have to be developed.

Mr. A. C. A. Colton, chairman of the house committee at Rushden Hospital, said the benefit for Rushden people of being near a chest unit would be lost if there was a change of use.

He thought it would be “catastrophic” for Kettering. The hospital there made great use of Rushden’s chest centre.

Chairman of the Rushden mothers’ club, Mrs. P. Penness, received the suggestion with reservations. She thought the majority of objections would be based on the difficulty of getting to a new chest centre.

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