A few weeks ago I mentioned Alice Fisher who was Matron of Addenbrooke’s from 1877-1882. Before her appointment the Board of Governors reported in 1876 – after the departure of a fourth matron in 8 years, and the decline of household management of the hospital – a committee was formed to discuss ‘matronship’ and appointment of Matron. They concluded that ‘a Matron should be capable of supervising both the nursing and the housekeeping’.
After her appointment Miss Fisher, wrote in a letter to Florence Nightingale:
‘The finances of the Hospital were in a very bad state, and indeed I found everything in confusion. There were no trained nurses, the night nursing was done by old women of indifferent character who did not live in the house, the ward-maids who were the only assistants to the nurses were dirty and ignorant girls of 17 who slept in the kitchen attached to the wards. The head-nurses and ward nurses dined together and during dinner, which by all accounts lasted a long time, the wards were entirely unattended to’.
With Alice’s personal control over housekeeping costs she satisfied the Governors and was able to persuade the Board to allow her to set up in 1878 the first Nurse training Scheme.