To Blaise Simqu, Sage Publications

To: Blaise Simqu
Sage Publications Inc
2455 Teller Rd.
Thousand Oaks CA 91320

Dear Mr Simqu

We are writing with concern about seriously false and misleading material in a Sage book, Leadership in Health Care, and ask you to communicate this to the authors, Jill Barr and Lesley Dowding.

One might expect a book entitled Leadership in Health Care make the distinction between providing leadership in health care, as Florence Nightingale did, and running a business for customers, as Mary Seacole did during the Crimean War–however nicely she did it. But they get it spectacularly wrong, without ever citing a reference!

While Nightingale was leading the nursing, cleaning up hospitals and establishing laundries and kitchens for the sick soldiers, these authors have her “collecting data.” When did she have the time? (She did analyze data, post-Crimea, but the data were collected by the War Office.) They also have her in the wrong country: the Barrack Hospital was in Turkey–the war was in the Crimea, 300 miles away.

They go further off in listing Seacole in “leaders in health care,” immediately after Nightingale, as if she ranked second. However, as her own book, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands (a good read) made abundantly clear, she ran a restaurant/bar/store/takeaway and catering service at commercial prices for officers. How does this qualify as health care? They repeat the common misinformation (no source given) that Seacole was “refused an interview to go to the Crimea). Check her Chapter VIII: She never applied, but only dropped in casually to various offices concerned with the war, after the nurses had left. What does it mean to be “refused” when you never applied?

If you want to call someone a nurse, should you not say where and when they nursed?

Not done with it, and again without a reference, Barr and Dowding have Seacole “held up as one of the first black women leaders.” What did she lead? Her business sadly failed. Her remedies were doubtful at best–she admitted to “lamentable blunders” (p 31), which adding lead and mercury to herbal preparations would be–lead and mercury are toxic in any dose. For other examples of Seacole misinformation online, see For a book, see Lynn McDonald, Mary Seacole: The Making of a Myth (Toronto: Iguana 2014).

There is a lot of other silliness in Leadership in Health Care, but these bloopers are really inexcusable. The authors should retract them and apologize for misleading their readers. They should delete the material in any subsequent edition, or get it right.

Yours sincerely
[19 members of the Nightingale Society]