The local board and their fever hospital

Ann Richardson, widow, Alnwick, was summoned at the instance of the Local Board Health for unlawfully obstructing the execution of an order made by the justices of the peace requiring her son to be removed to a hospital for infectious diseases at Alnwick.

Mr. Robert Middlemas, solicitor, Clerk to the Local Board, represented that body in the case for the prosecution. Defendant was not represented.

Mr. Middlemas stated that the woman was asked very civilly to let her boy go to the hospital, the Medical Officer of Health of the Board having certified that it was proper case to go there. When the caretaker of the hospital went to remove the boy, the mother stood in the doorway and refused to let him go in. The police sergeant was there as well, but as there was some understanding at the time that no force was to be used he merely looked on.

The boy was quite willing, and wanted to go. The mother was told he would be better at the hospital. There was a complaint laid that another young man was labouring under the disease. He went voluntarily to the hospital, and defendant was told of this fact, and also that there was a trained nurse had been got from Newcastle. When, however, they went to remove the young man from Canongate Street, they were met by defendant in Narrowgate, who said they were fools, that she would not allow her child to go, that she had defied the magistrates, the police, and the Board.

The woman having made such public demonstration, he was forced to take proceedings. Mr. Middlemas quoted a case where it was shown the magistrates could not go behind the order previously made. He then called Thomas White, the caretaker, Sergeant Douglas, and Mr. Geoffrey Wilson, town surveyor, who in turn supported the prosecution.

The defendant said she had struggled for three years to keep her children together, and she did not want anyone to take them away. She thought the mother was the proper one to nurse her own child. The boy had scarcely been anything the worse, and had been running about, and doctor had only been twice at him, and had said her boy would be all right in a day or two. The boy had been running about ever since.

The Chairman: There was the liability of his spreading the infection. It is clear there must be conviction. When an order is made for the removal of a patient into the fever hospital it must be obeyed. Otherwise it was capable of giving infection to many other people, and for the reason of preventing the spread of infection the Local Board had provided the fever hospital. This being the first case, the Board would only inflict a simple penalty of 2s 6d, and remit the costs. Fourteen days were allowed for payment.

Morpeth Herald – Saturday 28 November 1891

More on the fever hospital <here>

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