Mental Health ‘everyone's problem’—M.P.
People must quickly come to realise that the problem of mental health was one which concerned everyone, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, M.P. for Finchley and Friern Barnet, told nurses and visitors at Friern Hospital, on Monday.
“Until the public comes into contact with mental disorder, we of the general public tend to dismiss it as something that will never touch us,” she declared.
Mrs. Thatcher was speaking at the third annual nurses' prizegiving at the hospital, at the time her appointment as a junior Minister in the Government was being announced in London. She afterwards distributed the prizes.
She said that the whole conception of mental treatment and the techniques which were used now, were totally unknown 20 years ago. The knowledge now far exceeded anything the previous generation had to deal with, and nurses had to learn far more specialised and complicated nursing at an earlier age.
“We lead Europe in our approach to mental health, and it is delightful with the coming of the Common Market that this is something for which Europe was coming to Britain. But the authorities needed the co-operation of the public if the new Mental Health Bill was to succeed.
Mrs. Thatcher also said how pleased she was to hear that they were still keeping General Certificate of Education as a must for entry. “If you learn at school it saves you learning later on,” she commented.
Speaking of the shortage of nurses, Mrs. Thatcher said that unless girls who got married continued to come back on a part or even full time basis, she did not see how hospitals were going to be staffed.
The prizegiving was opened by Mr. N. Wiggins, chairman of the Hospital Management Committee, who spoke of the great personal satisfaction in nursing. “Wherever you go in life you will find yourselves able to satisfy the needs of others,” he said.
In her report, the Matron, Miss M. Morrill, spoke of the extensions to the operating theatre and other renovations which, she said, would be the best possible means of teaching thoroughly.
Miss Morrill said examination results were most rewarding, and they had a gold medallist for the first time.
Reporting on the male nurses' achievements, Mr. E. J. Rogers, chief male nurse, said that 32 nurses had passed their intermediate examination and one post graduate student had been taking preliminary training. Of the 13 who passed their finals, 12 were staying to become staff nurses.
Dr. I. Sutton, physician superintendent, who closed the prizegiving, said he hoped the nurses “would wear their Friern badge with dignity and pride, because you have trained at one of the best centres in the country” .
Votes of thanks were proposed by Student Nurse T. Jones and Student Nurse P. West.