‘What can First World War nurses teach us?’

HEROINE: Nurse Nellie Spindler died after a hospital blast in the war. Picture via: Lijssenthoek Cemetery Visitor Centre.

A First World War field hospital will be recreated next week at an interactive exhibition where history meets healthcare.

The ‘Nurses on the Frontline of Wound Care’ event at the University of Leeds will also feature readings from First World War diaries, Edwardian-style afternoon tea and short talks from researchers, nurses and historians.

HELP: Military nurses tend a wounded man. Image: Wellcome Collection

The Friday, November 17 display will also commemorate First World War nurse Nellie Spindler, from Wakefield. She was killed following a blast at a hospital near the frontline at Ypres. Nellie, who qualified as a nurse in Leeds in 1915, was just 26 when she died in 1917.

The exhibition, subtitled ‘from Passchendaele to Pressure Ulcers’, asks ‘What can the First World War teach today’s nurses about wound care?’

The afternoon event will follow an academic conference on the same subject earlier that day. Both events are being held to coincide with Stop Pressure Ulcer Week, which aims to highlight a significant problem which affects 700,000 people in the UK each year.

Alison Fell, Professor of French cultural history at Leeds, said: “The First World War gave nurses new responsibilities for managing complex wound care in what were often difficult circumstances.

“I think that the solutions they found and challenges they faced – which they often wrote about in their letters and diaries – are still relevant to nurses today.”

Prof Fell is overseeing Legacies of War – a series of research projects and outreach activities – focusing on the centenary of the First World War

Next Friday’s event will run from 3.30pm to 5.30pm at The Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds. It is free but you need to reserve your place via www.eventbrite.co.uk. Search for Leeds events.

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