Posts filed under “Seacole statue”

To Simon Stevens, CEO, NHS England

Simon Stevens, CEO
england.contactus@nhs.net

Dear Mr Stevens

Re: Mary Seacole Statue to be Erected
Work is going ahead at St Thomas’ Hospital on the site for the proposed Mary Seacole statue, to be labelled “Pioneer Nurse,” on which we have raised vigorous objections (not to a statue anywhere, but not at Nightingale’s Hospital and not labelling a restaurant/bar owner a “Pioneer Nurse’).

Since the full amount of money has not been raised for the statue, we ask, will health care money go into paying for it?

We expect that, should the installation go ahead, the site will become in time a Monument to Political Correctness, or “Hugh and Ron’s Folly” Sir Hugh Taylor, chair of the Trust and Sir Ronald Kerr, chief executive, have been the great promoters of the statue. Their use of blatantly false material to defend use of the hospital site compounds the wrong. Should St Thomas’ be exempt from normal standards of objectivity, fairness and accuracy?

Nightingale wanted her nurses to be “truthful, honest and trustworthy,” which, apart from the redundancy, we think are still worthy qualities. She famously held that hospitals should, first of all, do no harm, and we might add that they, too, should be honest and trustworthy in their own statements.

Yours sincerely

To the CEO of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Sir Ronald Kerr
Chief Executive Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
June 15, 2015

Dear Sir Ron

Thank you for your reply of June 9 2015.

We are very aware of the misinformation Lord Soley and his organization put out. If he has made any retractions or apologies, we would be glad to hear of them, so contact would be welcome. Thank you.

We note that the statue campaign website no longer displays the Crimean medal with 4 clasps, which Seacole did not win. However, no apology for the false claim has ever appeared.

That Lord Soley’s organization supplies misinformation does not justify the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust using it. We note that neither you nor Sir Hugh has ever given so much as one instance to justify the title “Pioneer Nurse” on the planned statue. We ask again. Failure to document any pioneering nursing should mean removal of the claim on the statue. Please respond.

We note your response that Trust funds will not go to funding the statue, but remain concerned about site preparation. Will a hole be left if the money is not raised? Who pays for looking after an empty site? Did anyone calculate the extra security that will likely be required when the statue loses its lustre? i.e., when political correctness no longer holds sway and people resent being taken in by your propaganda campaign?

Finally, we note the failure of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust ever to retract the misinformation it circulated in 2011 to justify the statue in the first place. We remain with Nightingale in the view that nurses should be “honest, truthful and trustworthy,” and would want the hospital of her school to meet this standard, too. That you have not requires attention and redress.

Yours sincerely

[signed]

copy: Dr Ronald Trubuhovich, OMNZ, FRCA, FANZCA-whose letter to you with pertinent concerns remains unanswered

To the Chair and CEO of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust

Sir Hugh Taylor and Sir Ron Kerr

Dear Sirs

Re: Liability for the Mary Seacole Statue

We are concerned with the announcement that preparation of the site for the Mary Seacole statue is going ahead, even though not all the money has been raised to pay for it.

Who will be responsible for any gap in funding? Will health care money be redirected to pay the costs?

We inquire also about liability for maintenance if the installation goes ahead. What happens when the honeymoon is over, and people begin to realize that Mrs Seacole was not the “Pioneer Nurse” claimed? Or that she was not a “black nurse,” for she did not identify as a black or African but rather disparaged those roots while she praised her Scottish heritage. This is understandable given the mores of the time, but it hardly makes for a good role model.

What happens when Seacole’s own words come to be suspect, as in her statement that, if her skin ‘had been as dark as any nigger’s,” she “should have been just as happy and as useful” (Seacole, Wonderful Adventures p. 48) and her references to her “good-for-nothing black cooks” (p. 141).

Who is responsible if the site becomes a location for drinking and damage, after the honeymoon is over? “Mrs Seacole’s” was effectively an officers’ club, never a hospital, as so often claimed, a source for champagne, fine wines, meals, sherry and catering for officers’ dinner parties. When a writer visited the Crimea years after the war he recalled going past the site, where there was an “immense heap of broken bottles by the roadside… all that was left behind of Mrs Seacole’s famous store” (Arnold, From the Levant, the Black Sea and the Danube 2:184).

The broken bottles may indeed have been the result of Mrs Seacole’s own hammering “case after case” of red wine, when she could not sell it when it was time to go home (p. 196).

The Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, alas, gave such an fallacious presentation of Seacole’s life that people may not realize the risks of the truth coming out, as it often does. Statues can acquire a negative meaning as times change.

Yours sincerely

To the National Union of Teachers

We are writing with concern about the NUT’s support for the Mary Seacole Statue Campaign, and teaching on her in the National Curriculum. We do not oppose honouring Seacole in either way, but the associated misinformation campaign. A status of Seacole is a worthy honour, and the sculptor chosen a fine one. However it should not be labeled “Pioneer Nurse,” portray her with medals, which she did not win, nor ever claim to have, and should not be placed at St Thomas’ Hospital, for more than a century the site of Nightingale’s School, the pioneering nursing school that improved nursing throughout the world.

Has the NUT supported the ongoing inclusion of Nightingale in the National Curriculum? We ask you to, if you have not. She not only was the major founder of the modern profession of nursing, but she was a great public health reformer, which Seacole never was, and never claimed to be. In 1864 Nightingale called for quality care for all, regardless of ability to pay, and argued for the replacement of the harsh Poor Law, which sent people to workhouses, in favour of humane agencies that would provide care for the aged, the sick and infirm. No child should ever be in a workhouse, she said–surely you would agree.

Yet Seacole is included as a nurse, pioneer and health care advocate, with medals no less. She was a decent and generous person, a businesswoman who ran a restaurant/bar/store/takeaway service for officers–a legitimate business–but not a hospital or clinic for soldiers, as she is now said to have done, and which she never claimed. For an exposé of common errors in portraying her see www.maryseacole.info/

Seacole was honoured post-war for her kindness, and officers raised a fund to support her in her old age. The recent campaign, however, changes all that to her being honoured for heroism, and she is given credit for all the work Nightingale did to bring in better standards of cleanliness and nutrition to the war hospitals and improve the lives of ordinary soldiers.

Has the NUT supported the ongoing inclusion of Nightingale in the National Curriculum? We ask you to do so. This is not either/or with Seacole. The two were different people and each should be honoured for her merits. For Nightingale, inclusion also means highlighting a woman adept at statistics and public policy, a needed model (there aren’t many) for girls at school.

To Sir Robert McAlpine

To Sir Robert McAlpine

Sir Robert McAlpine
Eaton Court
Maylands Av
Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP2 7TR

January 20, 2013

Dear Sir Robert

We understand that you have agreed to construct the planned statue of Mary Seacole for St Thomas’ Hospital at cost, thereby saving the promoters of the statue a considerable sum. Generous as this is of you, we wonder what you have against Florence Nightingale.

We wish to make clear that we do not oppose the erection of a Seacole statue, but rather to the dishonest portrayal of her. The planned statue is to show her wearing medals, which in fact she never won. True, she wore medals, and had her portrait painted, photographs taken and a bust sculpted wearing them-but none of them were hers.

The statue is to name her “Pioneer Nurse,” at Nightingale’s hospital no less, the site of her school, the first secular nurse training school in the world, and for more than a century the base from which she sent out teams of nurses to bring in new standards of patient care throughout the world. Yet Seacole was not a nurse at all, and never claimed to be. She called herself a “doctress,” meaning herbalist (although she was known to add such toxic substances as lead acetate and mercury chloride to her remedies, which of course were not harmless herbals).

You as a leading figure in the construction industry might be interested to know that Nightingale was a major force in reforming hospital architecture in the late 19th century-when death rates of patients per admissions averaged 10%. She influenced the design of the St Thomas’ opened in 1871, which was a world leader in design. Three of the old pavilions still stand (the others were bombed in World War II). What a curious place to install a statue honouring another person as the “Pioneer Nurse”!

We urge you to make your donation of costs contingent on the statue being honest: no medals and no claim of “Pioneer Nurse,” and placement somewhere other than St Thomas’ Hospital.

Yours sincerely

To HRH the Duchess of Cornwall

To HRH the Duchess of Cornwall

HRH the Duchess of Cornwall
Clarence House
London SW1 1BA

December 10, 2012

Madam

We have written to HM the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cambridge and HRH Princess Alexandra concerning the projected placement of a statue to honour Mary Seacole as the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’ Hospital: the Queen particularly as she has already opened the Mary Seacole Building at Brunel University; Princess Alexandra as it has been suggested that the Palace would ask her to unveil the statue planned for St Thomas’ Hospital. We believe that you should be informed as well, in case you are asked to open a building or unveil a statue.

We wish to make clear that we do not oppose honouring Seacole for her own work, but rather her being credited with the achievements of Florence Nightingale, and more widely, entirely fictional achievements, such as being awarded three medals for bravery during the Crimean War.

Nightingale was demonstrably not only Britain’s “pioneer nurse” but the major founder of nursing throughout the world. Even the design of St Thomas’ Hospital was influenced by her, and can be seen in the three pavilions that survived bombing in the Second World War. The 1871 hospital originally built on the site was opened by Queen Victoria. It was of the then innovative, safe “pavilion” design, and architects came from America and Europe to see it.

The fact that St Thomas’ faces Parliament only adds to the offence, for Seacole had nothing to do with political change for health care, while Nightingale throughout her life wrote briefs for Parliament and lobbied Cabinet members and MPs on needed reforms.

On the misinformation now in circulation about Seacole see http://www.maryseacole.info. On Nightingale see: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn.

We understand the desire of many people to celebrate a black heroine. However, we do not believe that the work and reputation of another person should be denigrated in the process, or that false “information” should be used to justify the claims made for the honouree.

A reply by your staff would be appreciated: to contact@nightingalesociety.com

Yours sincerely

To HRH Princess Alexandra

To HRH Princess Alexandra, in her role as patron of the Florence Nightingale Museum

Your Royal Highness

We write with concern about the projected placement of a statue to honour Mary Seacole as the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’ Hospital. Press reports state that you have been designated the person to unveil this statue. Yet you are a patron of the Florence Nightingale Museum and of the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

We wish to make it clear that we do not oppose honouring Seacole for her own life and work, but rather the appropriating to her the work of Florence Nightingale, who was not only Britain’s “pioneer nurse” but the major founder of nursing throughout the world, work based at St Thomas’ Hospital. The hospital design itself was influenced by Nightingale–the three pavilions not destroyed in World War II plus the governors’ court and chapel. The hospital originally built on the site was of the then innovative, safe “pavilion” design, and architects came from America and Europe to see it.

The fact that St Thomas’ faces Parliament only adds to the offence, for Seacole had nothing to do with political change for health care, while Nightingale throughout her life wrote briefs for Parliament and lobbied Cabinet members and MPs on key needed reforms.

The board of the Guy’s-St Thomas’ NHS Trust made its decision in favour of a statue on the basis of massive misinformation provided to it by the Seacole Memorial Appeal Campaign, misinformation which it then further circulated. For further information see www.maryseacole.info

We understand the desire of many people to celebrate a black heroine and make her a role model, but we do not believe that the end justifies the means, that the work and reputation of anyone else should be denigrated in the process, or that false “information” should be used to justify the claims made for the honoree.

To Martin Jennings, sculptor

To Martin Jennings, designated sculptor of the Seacole statue

Dear Mr Jennings

We are writing with concern about the placement of a Mary Seacole statue, of your design, at St Thomas’ Hospital, with the designation of Seacole as “Pioneer Nurse.”

We note the fine statue of Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras Station, your work, with the claim that he “saved this glorious station,” which he no doubt did. The situation for Seacole, however, is quite different. We do not disagree with honouring her, and a statue by you would be a fine tribute, but she was not a pioneer nurse, nor ever claimed to be a nurse at all. Rather she was a businesswoman. She ran a boarding house for years in Kingston, Jamaica, and the “British Hotel” in the Panama, in fact a restaurant and store for men en route to the California gold rush, and for a year the British Hotel in the Crimean War, again a restaurant, store and takeaway service for officers, not a hotel. It did not provide nursing care or accommodation for soldiers.

Seacole called herself a “doctress,” meaning a herbalist, although what was in her remedies is not known in any detail. She did act with kindness and compassion to ordinary soldiers, in voluntary work, pro-bono, but this hardly saved “thousands” of lives as is now claimed.

Nor did Seacole win the medals claimed for her by the Seacole campaign, which you state she was “proud” to wear. She did not mention them in her Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, and the picture of her on the cover shows no medals–evidently she wore them in London later. It was not then a criminal offence to wear military medals not your own, although it would be now.

We wonder what information you were given when you prepared your design and wrote up your description.

To HM the Queen

H.M. the Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA
September 10, 2012

Madam

We write with concern about the projected placement of a statue to honour Mary Seacole as the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’ Hospital. Press reports state that your office will ask Princess Alexandra to unveil this statue, or you might be asked to unveil it yourself–as you opened a Seacole Building at Brunel University in 2006.

We wish to make clear that we do not oppose honouring Seacole for her own life and work, but rather the appropriating to her of the work of Florence Nightingale, who was not only Britain’s “pioneer nurse” but the major founder of nursing throughout the world, work based at St Thomas’ Hospital. The hospital’s design itself was influenced by Nightingale, and can be seen in the three pavilions that were not destroyed in World War II. The hospital originally built on the site was of the then innovative, safe “pavilion” design, and architects came from America and Europe to see it.

The fact that St Thomas’ faces Parliament only adds to the offence, for Seacole had nothing to do with political change for health care, while Nightingale throughout her life wrote briefs for Parliament and lobbied Cabinet members and MPs on needed reforms.

The board of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust made its decision in favour of a statue on the basis of massive misinformation provided to it by the Seacole Memorial Appeal Campaign, misinformation which it then further circulated. For further information see www.maryseacole.info. Part of our concern is the possibility of significant embarrassment to your office in the light of how this misinformation is now being unraveled and revealed, as not only being inaccurate but, in too many instances, deliberately misleading.

We understand the desire of many people to celebrate a black heroine, but we do not believe that the work and reputation of another person, especially one so closely associated with your ancestor Queen Victoria, should be denigrated in the process, or that false “information” should be used to justify the claims made for the honoree.

For information on Seacole see: www.maryseacole.info;
for Nightingale: www.sociology.uoguelph.ca/fnightingale/.
A reply by your staff would be appreciated: to
contact@nightingalesociety.com

Yours sincerely

To Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, PC, MP
Secretary of State for Health
Richmond House, 79 Whitehall
London SW1A 2NS
September 10, 2012

Dear Mr Hunt

On 2 August we wrote your predecessor (letter attached) with our concerns about the proposed placement of a Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas’ Hospital, with the designation “Pioneer Nurse,” approval for which was given by the board of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The minister had an email sent to us in reply declining to take any action, but referring us to the current chair of the Trust, Sir Ron Kerr. We will indeed write once more to the Trust in the hope of a serious response to our concerns, one we never received from the last chair.

We wish, however, to gain your views about the criteria set for Trusts in their decision making. We understand the independence of the Trust as a Foundation Trust. However, this concerns decision making prior to its becoming a Foundation Trust, and indeed under a different government and regime. As more transparent analysis of the rationale for discussion comes to hand, we believe that this has the potential for very significant public embarrassment, and therefore are seeking your good offices in addressing the errors made.

We ask you, at the very least, to inform the current board of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust that the purveying of false information and decision making behind closed doors, based on misinformation, are unacceptable.

For information on Seacole see: www.maryseacole.info/
for Nightingale: www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn
A reply would be appreciated: contact@nightingalesociety.com

Sincerely yours

[attached: letter to Andrew Lansley, Mr Hunt’s predecessor as Health Secretary]