Hospital closes

Monday 5th December 2011

WASH frequently… Help combat… Don’t leave it to… Record observations… Keep the airway open.

Signs on walls, doors, cupboards and equipment. Trays and cabinets in the office contain seventy-two different charts and thirty-plus different forms. Not once during my five visits did I hear anyone complain about the amount of paperwork.

“I wanted the challenge, the opportunity to work in a small hospital. I love it here.”

“Back then, the baby milk was kept in a shed. Somebody rang through and we’d send it over. We were running a clinic without seeing the patients!”

Wooden plaques on the wall by the old staircase: ‘The Diana Elizabeth Peter Cot 1936’; a bed endowed by John Clough’s sister; in memory of physician Arthur John Awdry, died 1914, who ‘by his kindness and sympathy endeared himself to all who knew him’.

“One night I told my Dad, ‘I’m going to be a nurse.’ I was fourteen. ‘Are you, darling?’ he said. Did two nights a week to get my Red Cross badge.”

“Come on, Marcus, you can do this too.”

Rehab. I join six elderly out-patients on the circuit: catching a large plastic ball, walking up and down steps, balancing, reaching, flexing, stretching sinews to the Bee Gees. We work hard for that refreshing cup of tea.

“Now that we’re closing, we can’t use all the equipment because of the sterilisation required. Yes, it’s sad to be leaving, but it’ll be the same team.”

“You feel close to the people around you. We’ll take our memories with us, some funny, some sad. It’s been a privilege, working here.”

An oaken, long-case grandfather clock stands in what was once the main entrance: the craftsmanship of William Bird of Seagrave, circa 1760: steel hands to a brass dial; Roman numerals; the date displayed by a third pointer to the inside of the chapter ring.

It has stopped at four minutes past the fourth hour. When the Rehab clock shows the same time, I bid the staff farewell.

Yesterday, for the first time in its long-case history, the doors of Berkeley Hospital were closed.




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