Some hospitals used their leeches only once and then destroyed them, but we dropped ours into a jar of strong salt solution so that they obligingly vomited and could be used again Edith Cotterill's memories of hospital training in the 1930s include encouraging leeches to attach to patients (a task that was harder than you might think) and the disposal of amputated limbs in the stoke-hole. But hospital life had its compensations during the Second World War Edith met her husband, a sailor, on the wards. It was after the birth of her two daughters that Edith returned to work as a district nurse in Tipton. Her many and various patients included characters such as Mrs Tibbs, a randy old warhorse who thrived on belligerency, and Martha Gamp, whose talents included cow-pat poultices and laying-out corpses. With great warmth and humour, in Nurse on Call Edith Cotterill brings the world of a district nurse vividly to life.
Edith Cotterill was born in Tipton, Staffordshire, during a Zeppelin raid in 1916. She joined the nursing profession in 1934, working at Standon Orthopaedic Hospital and Margaret General and District Hospital, and married a sailor in the Royal Navy in 1940. After the birth of her two daughters, she returned to nursing as a district nurse back in Tipton. She died in 1997.