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Florence Nightengale

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Source 4 is an extract from The Times Newspaper published in February of 1855. It includes little information to support Florence being the main cause of the improvement of medical care, but does include information on how she supported soldiers and was seen. For example, they say that wherever there is disease, Florence nightingale is depicted as a caring nurse, on hand to help. Her ‘kindly presence’ and ‘good comfort’ sense of aura is greatly appreciated by the soldiers whilst everyone is surrounded by death and illness. The report describes her as a ‘ministering angel’, which everyone’s face softens when they see her, supporting the evidence of her helping the ill and diseased. This source does not entirely support the view that Florence Nightingale was largely the cause for improved British Soldier’s medical care.
The newspaper in which the article was written for was the main paper at the time in Britain, therefore it is most likely to give a positive opinion on Florence and her work for it wanted the rest of the country to acknowledge her greatness and angel like approach. Her popularity grew in Britain, even the queen was impressed. The fact the source was written during the Crimean War could have also reassured people at home that the soldiers are being well cared for and comforted. To me, this source suggests that she was just a friendly enlightening person, it states no information whether or not she helped, she was just there to provide a hand. I can apply my own knowledge to this, as although the source mentions no word of improving the medical condition, it is known that the introduction of proper sanitation meant the death rate of soldiers dying from infection fell from 42% to 2%. Nightingale was one of the first nurses to travel to Scutari hospital along with Mary Seacole, as known, she was highly respected in the medicine field of work where she helped soldier’s and comforted them, as stated in source 4, the soldiers sought comfort in her, although there is no mention of her medically helping. This source in my own is reliable, but does not fully justify that Florence was a large result for the introduction of improved medical care and that the paper in which it was published seemed more focused on the growth of her popularity, making the people of Britain believe she was the main cause of good during the Crimean War.

On the other hand, source 6 contrasts with the other two sources. It argues against the view to whether Nightingale was largely the result of improved medical care in the Crimean War. Written by Alistair Massie, as part of the Untold Stories of the Crimean War, this source is a much later published unlike source 4 which was published during the actual war. The source in which it was published too, ‘Untold Stories’ could be information which was discovered after the war had ended. It states that although Nightingale did much work to help the sick, the Sanitary Commission which arrived in March 1855 did most to reduce the mortality rate. It later states that the rate fell from 42% to 5.2% from February to May of 1855. To a degree I agree with the source. When the British government took action after discovering that ten times more soldiers were dying of diseases than battle wounds there were shocked so sent in the Sanitary Commission to aid the soldier’s of Nightingale and Seacole. They helped greatly and more soldiers were surviving from disease due to new vaccinations and the discovery of the germ theory from Louis Pasteur, these new medical improvements helped Nightingale to understand what was causing soldiers’ deaths and how she could take action to improve and act upon them to save lives. That was majorly down to her ability to lead and organise the hospital and improve the sanitation to help save the soldiers, where she introduced heating, beds, equipment and medical supplies. All these points support the view on whether Nightingale was largely the cause of the result to improved health care among soldiers. This completely contrasts with source 6 which suggests Florence tried to help save soldiers, but was not successful in doing so. Also, although the Sanitary Commission purified the water supply and flushed out the sewers, which mostly improved the mortality rate, Nightingale herself continued to attribute responsibility for the high number of deaths to inadequate supplies and nutrition as well as the British army sending troops across the Black Sea to Scutari hospital when they were practically already half dead. She used science and statistics, which she applied to the military hospital. It is this information which supports the argument against the view that Nightingale was the reason to why medical care was improved. Source 6 provides evidence to why the Sanitary Commission were the ones who looked at the inside sanitation of sewers and water supplies which reduced the rate by significant amounts, much more than Nightingale could have ever done by herself.

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