While in the introverted Edinburgh Fringe bubble, I missed last week’s BBC News report that Ludlow Hospital had “turned down a £2,500 donation from a group of men dressed up as nurses after bosses said the outfits were demeaning”.
The BBC report explained:
The group, which was supporting Ludlow Hospital in Shropshire, raised the money by pushing a bed around the town.
Jan Ditheridge, chief executive of Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, said the behaviour was “insulting”.
A letter to Peter Corfield, chair of Ludlow Hospital League of Friends, from Ms Ditheridge and chair of the trust Mike Ridley, said: “The presentation of men dressed as female nurses in a highly-sexualised and demeaning way is wrong, very outdated and insulting to the profession”.
Mr Corfield said the bed-push fundraiser had taken place every summer for decades involving men from the local community and was “light-hearted”.
He said proceeds from this year’s event had been earmarked to provide ECG machines for the outpatients and minor injuries departments at Ludlow.
“We have therefore now had to withdraw the funding for those items,” he added.
Alison Hiles, whose husband took part in the event, said: “Nobody’s complained, everybody seems to enter into the spirit of it, locals know that it’s going on, those that aren’t local really enjoy the event and always have a chat with the lads and willingly give money, nobody forces them. I really don’t know why all of a sudden that it’s a problem.”
In the mid 1980s myself and a group of like minded friends covered the best part, if not all, of Northamptonshire’s town carnivals plus St Ives and Newport Pagnell dressed as nurses and we too gathered a lot of money in each town that went to the respective carnival funds.
Nobody ever complained, quite the reverse as we were invited to other events along the way.
Here is a photo from the jolly ole snap-shot album of me in my regalia – I had borrowed the outfit from a nurse friend of ours who worked at Kettering General Hospital – on a dinky bike I made from scrap that folded up into a ‘medical bag’ I carried along the assorted parade routes that was pulled out and rode after ‘pursued patients’.