Dr Weston – Bexhill Medical Officer of Health

Dr. G.H. Weston took the position of Medical Officer of Health for Bexhill in July 1912. His previous career is unknown but a Dr. G. H. Weston was writing from Shirley, Southampton, to the British Medical Journal concerning an epidemic of scarlet fever in 1884. This may be evidence of an early interest that led him to a career in Public Health that he followed energetically in East Sussex.

Eighteen months into his appointment he is referred to by a Borough Councillor as a “New Broom”which sometimes created a great deal of dust that required damping down”, such as his proposal to the Council to replace the leaky and sometimes swamped temporary buildings of the Isolation Hospital. He argued that it was impossible to separate acute and sub-acute cases so that patients recovering from one infection were infected with another before they could be discharged. Scarlet fever patients were not recovering as quickly as they should and there was an urgent need for “a proper out-bathing and discharge station. The patients are generally at present bathed before the kitchen fire.”

The proposal was reviewed by a Local Government Board of Inquiry in March 1915. Dr. Weston, in khaki as Senior Medical Officer to the Cooden and Bexhill recruits, argued his case well. It was decided to proceed with this urgent work on new sewers and the Observation Block. By 1st July 1916 it was open and awaiting patients with Matron Lucy Hiscock in charge.

By August 1916 Dr. Weston is reported to have added Battle, Hastings and Rye to his remit as Medical Officer of Health and was the Inspecting Officer of the Military Hospitals in the Hastings Group, covering a large area of East Sussex. His work in Bexhill was assisted by Councillor Dr. Young and the Care Committee of the Council of which he was a member, and from January 1917, by School Nurse Dudley.

Dr Weston’s District Health Reports showed his thorough health inspections of over 500 school children, seeking evidence of infection, infestation and disability, and finding only normal rates of positive cases. In 1916 he reports that the War “has not so far brought any distress or want of employment to the district. On the contrary, there has been some scarcity of labour, and the children have been on the whole better clothed and fed than in the past.”

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