Hospital Administrator 3

This is third and final instalment of the memories of a former Hospital Administrator of Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Over the next three weeks I am going to share with you the memories of a former Hospital Administrator of Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

As regards the building itself, the airiness and sense of space was most attractive to everybody; we were only used to old hospital buildings, mostly Victorian.  There were many minor features which were novel, such as a new type of aluminium-framed window which had been used.

Incidentally the ward block provided a most pleasant atmosphere of brightness and calm.  I have always thought that it was short-sighted of the NHS to abandon high-rise developments; it was almost certainly done because of associated running costs, eg, lift maintenance.  But this does not seem to have been a factor with hospitals in other countries I have visited e.g. France and the USA.  NHS hospitals now all look the same; when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

The hospital cleaning service was ‘contracted out’ – unusual in those days.  I found several loopholes in the contract, and renegotiated it to both save money and give us a better service.  This was the only time I was complimented by the Treasurer, a formidable man named Hollins based at the old site.  I got to know him better later.  He was an expert gardener and gave me many tips.

I did not have the title of Hospital Secretary, the normal title in those days; I was the ‘Senior Administrative Assistant’.  This implied close supervision but in practice I was left to my own devices, and had much more contact with Graham Cannon’s deputy, Oriole Goldsmith, but she never came to the site in my time.  This suited me.  There was a similar arrangement with nursing.  The Chief Nurse on site, Mrs. Blackmore, was titled Assistant Matron, but we never saw the Matron (I think she was named Miss Puddicombe) who was firmly rooted at the old site.

The new site was then surrounded by rich farmland.  The farmer would burn his stubble every year, and one year it blew in the direction of the hospital and so contaminated the air-conditioning system that operating theatre staff were distracted and complained to me.  I contacted the farmer, who did what he could, but also complained to my boss who reprimanded me, saying that I had to accept that stubble-burning was long-established local practice.

I return to Cambridge as a tourist every few years and several times have visited the site; no longer the ‘New Site’, but Addenbrooke’s itself.  Since I left, the change is so dramatic that I can barely work out where my office was, or even where the main entrance was.  It has changed out of recognition, and of course is a much more effective and impressive hospital.  Inevitably, the early sense of excitement can’t possibly be there.  They were heady times.

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