Rt Hon David Cameron, PC, MP
April 7, 2016
Dear Mr Cameron
We write with concern about the use of public money, the £240,000 promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the Mary Seacole statue. We do not object at all to Seacole being celebrated – she deserves it – but for the false description of her as a “Pioneer Nurse” and its placement at St Thomas’ Hospital, site for more than a century of Florence Nightingale’s first training school for nurses in the world.
Mrs Seacole was an enterprising and kind businesswoman, who ran, in effect, a (for-profit) club for officers. Champagne, fine wines and catering for their dinner parties should not be confused with nursing care and improved nutrition for ordinary soldiers, Florence Nightingale’s work.
Another problem, a Seacole statue should not face the Houses of Parliament, for it was Nightingale who wrote briefs for committees, and pressed MPs and Cabinet ministers for reforms in nursing, hospitals and health care.
We strongly urge you to make the grant contingent on a more appropriate site being used for the Seacole statue. We have recommended Forum Magnum Square, by the County Hall, and there are several other possibilities.
If erected at St Thomas’ Hospital, the site risks becoming a target for ridicule, as a “History Hoax.” Do your ministers want to lead the list? The timing is inordinately embarrassing, for the bicentenary of Nightingale’s birth will be celebrated in 2020, presumably not at her hospital. This would be a shame in the eyes of millions who know, value and respect her achievements.
[18 members of the Nightingale Society]
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