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War Surgery and Medicine

Number Required

Number Required

Consideration of the volume of work done (as shown above) indicates that the technical staff necessary in a General Hospital laboratory is at least:


Technician-in-Charge: This man should be properly qualified and experienced.


Technician for general bacteriology.


Technician for faeces and urine examinations.


Technician for biochemistry—a properly trained biochemist.


Technician for media making and section cutting.


Technician for haematology.


‘Trainee’ or general duties man for washing up, sterilising, etc.


Spare Technician: At base hospitals each man was entitled to 1½ days off duty per week and to two annual leave periods of 14 days; as a technician cannot be replaced by a general duties man a ‘spare’ is an essential.


Transfusion Orderly, if blood transfusion work and intravenous solution preparation is undertaken by the laboratory.

This suggested staff of 8 (plus transfusion orderly = 9) for dealing with approximately 2000 specimens per month may be contrasted with the Christchurch Hospital staff of 17 (plus 3 transfusion staff=20) for dealing with approximately 3000 specimens per month.

In 1940 the first General Hospitals went to the Middle East with each a Pathologist and each one partly trained technician (private). It was soon found that the RAMC War Establishment provided for 600 and 900-bed hospitals laboratory assistants as follows:

Sergeant technician 1
Private technician 1

and this establishment appears to have been that of 2 NZEF in 1942, as under the capitation agreement with the British Government the 2 NZEF WE was tied to the British. The difficulty of staff shortage in laboratories was overcome by ‘attaching’ nursing orderlies (privates) ‘for training’. Thus in August 1943, 1 NZ General Hospital (average daily bed state over 800) had three ‘attached for training’ and a ‘transfusion orderly’. Even this staff necessitated much ‘overtime’ and night work in the many busy periods.

This ‘attachment for training’ was later prohibited, resulting in a report to DMS by the Pathologist 1 NZ General Hospital (October 1943) indicating the work undertaken and staff required much as above, and suggesting an establishment of:

600 Beds 900 Beds 1200 Beds
Sergeant 1 1 1
Technicians 3 5 6

(exclusive of orderlies for transfusion work and for ‘area work’ if undertaken).

In November 1943 the War Establishment was amended to:

600 Beds 900 Beds
Sergeant 1 1
Corporal 1 1
Privates 2 3

which was a step in the right direction.

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