A few weeks ago I wrote about the problem of heating the wards at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and a letter from some of the medical staff saying that heating the wards with radiators and hot water pipes would prove ‘prejudicial to the health and convalescence of the patients and to the health of the nursing staff’. The Regius Professor Physic at the time, Sir Clifford Allbutt was also against the proposal. He said, ‘This time when the Hospital is so poor that the Scientific Departments on which the highest efficiency of the therapeutics of the Institution depends are starved, it seems to me ill chosen for expensive and doubtful experiments, alterations, made without proper and expert assistance’. He had had trouble with the Board allowing him to carry our research in the hospital.
Another member of the Board, Prof Latham also had his doubts, ‘ I trust I have been misinformed for I can hardly believe that such a proposal whether considered from a financial or sanitary point of view or as regards even the comfort of the patients, could be entertained for a single moment by anyone at all conversant with hospital requirements.’
The matter would never have been solved if a fire had not broken out on 1 October 1902. This matter occupied the Governors so the Hot Water Committee gave the contractors permission to start the work. The junior doctors did make a final protest asking that radiators not be placed in their private sitting room, so they would not ‘have to endure the discomfort attending the proposed system’.