Addenbrooke’s First and Last Matron

Ann Perry – First Matron at Addenbrooke’s

Ann Perry, a spinster offered her services to the Infirmary as recorded in the minutes on 21 July 1766 and was subsequently appointed as the first Matron, on 18 August.  Her salary when the Hospital opened in October 1766 was £10 a year; and a ‘gratuity not exceeding £5 be given her, if she behaves well’.

The Matron as well as being the head nurse was housekeeper, catering officer, supplies officer, deputy secretary and welfare officer.

Mrs Perry was given leave of absence in March 1774 because of ill health and this appears to be her first holiday since her appointment eight years earlier. She died in December 1774. She must have been a remarkable woman because over the next five years the hospital employed five different Matrons.

Miss Mima Puddicombe OBE– Last Matron at Addenbrooke’s

Miss Puddicombe was appointed matron in 1958 and left in 1970 at a time when the changes in nursing management recommended in the report of the Salmon Committee where shortly to be brought into effect nationally.

37 Miss Puddicombe meeting The Queen May 1962

At the time of her appointment Addenbrooke’s was undergoing a great change – the building of the ‘new’ hospital on Hills Road and hers was the dominant nursing voice and she was listened to with respect by everyone.  This was important because the years following her appointment were those when the shape of the new hospital was being determined and significant decisions were being made which would affect the quality of patient care for years to come.  A few examples: the building of an experimental central sterilising unit in 1959 which replaced the old ‘boilers’ on the wards: the creation of the first intensive care unit in the same year on Hatton Ward (a medical ward):  the experimental waste disposal units on two wards at Trumpington Street so that their efficiency could be tested before inclusion in the plans for the new hospital.  All these needed the nursing experience and expertise which Miss Puddicombe brought to her post and gave unstintingly.

She did this without loosing touch with what was happening in the wards and departments.  Her ’rounds’ were not formal processions but practical working visits so that she could suggest changes and inform herself about what was going on.

Many people who knew her, even today remark that she always knew all her nurses by name – and a lot of the patients too!

Miss Puddicombe died aged 91 in 2005.

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