HC Deb 24 March 1896 vol 39 cc49-50
SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether his attention has been called to a case of cruelty in the Whitchurch Workhouse on the part of a pauper nurse, who in a fit of temper put a child into hot water and scalded one foot badly and the other slightly; whether he will have the ease investigated; and, whether he is taking any steps to press on Boards of Guardians the importance of establishing a system of trained nursing in workhouse infirmaries, and abolishing the custom of relying on paupers as nurses?


I have made inquiry respecting the case referred to, and I find that, in consequence of several cases of measles having occurred in the Workhouse, mostly of the made type, three inmates were directed to look after them, although, under ordinary circumstances, paupers are not employed to look after the sick. I am informed that on previous occasions, under similar circumstances, instructions were given by the Guardians that an additional nurse should be employed. It is much to be regretted that these instructions were not carried out when these additional cases occurred. The conduct of the pauper referred to was no doubt most reprehensible, and the Guardians communicated with the police with a view to its being considered whether a prosecution should not be instituted against her. I am glad to learn, however, from a certificate of the Medical Officer, that the injuries were not of a serious character, and that the child is now quite well. The Board, by a circular letter issued on the 29th of January 1895, urged upon Boards of Guardians the importance of appointing only trained and experienced nurses, and at the same time stated that "whilst the Board are not prepared to lay it down as a rule that in no case should pauper inmates act as attendants in sick wards, as dearly distinguished from nurses, they consider that their services should only be used with the approval of the, medical officer, and under the closest supervision at all times of paid officers. The importance of attention to these matters is urged upon the Guardians by the Board and their inspectors.