Friday, 7 November 2008

Florence Nightingale sets the standard for ERM

On Tuesday this week I went to the Florence Nightingale Museum, just across Westminster Bridge from the Houses of Parliament, tucked behind St Thomas' Hospital to view their archives which they very generously made available.

FN didn't go in for snappy titles but her "Notes on matters affecting the Health,Efficiency, and hospital administration of the British Army" packs many punches that a tabloid editor would relish. Some she borrowed

"If you don't send shoes, the army can't march." Wellington.

Some she coined herself

" But habit and ignorance make all men in all professions wonderfully acquiescent in evils, which, if once known and felt are remediable."

What comes across is that no detail relating to her subject was too small to be considered and then improvements proposed. In three hours of reading I noted her observations and proposals on sanitation, barracks and hospital construction, ventilation,statistics' use and veracity, medical education, clothing and equipment, laundries, procurement, diet, cooking facilities ( bread should be baked by the regiment), recreation and discipline, sick transport,climatic considerations, finance, malingering ( there isn't any to speak of), soldiers' wives and their treatment, the need to remit soldiers' pay home and then, as you would expect, proposals for nurses and their training.

There really was nothing that escaped her eye, except perhaps mental health issues and probably that is covered in another volume. If you want to understand how thorough enterprise risk management could be you need look no farther than this book.

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