Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jim Quick - Chester COHSE

Pioneering nurse Jim Quick will be remembered as a vetran trade unionist and life-long Socialist. He died October 4th 1997

My farther began his working life as a welder at the Camel Laird Shipyards, Birkenhead. He was 30 when the NHS was about to be created and so wanted to be a part of the socialist vision of a-hew society that he applied to train as a psychiatn'c nurse.

Transferring his membership from the boitermakers' union, he became a founding member of the newly formed union COHSE. He soon needed COHSE's support — the superintendent at the Deva, the Chester county mental hospital, attempted to discipline him for refusing to drive a combine harvester on the hospital farm.

But his boldness impressed local union officials and he was elected COHSE branch chair— fairly unusual for a student nurse

He qualified as an RMPA (Royal Medico-Psychological Association) in 1948 and worked in London, Cumbria and Staffordshire before returning to the Deva as a charge nurse in 1957. He resumed his involvement with the union and was elected Chester branch secretary, regional council member and executive member.

My father was promoted to assistant chief male nurse at the Deva and later to nursing officer. He believed that industrial therapy should be the core of patient rehabilitation services and took responsibility for the management of the industrial therapy unit, which he developed as a hub of patient activity at the hospital.

Promotion did not spell the end of his union activities and he continued as secretary of the officers' branch of COHSE until his retirement in 1975, when he moved to a part-time post with the Cheshire Area Health Authority. He was awarded life membership of COHSE in 1981.

As an active member of the Labour party for many years, he was delighted to see Chester elect its first Labour MP on May 1, 1997 this year.

Three of my father's four sons are nurses and Unison (and former COHSE) members. He will be remembered by his family, former comrades and colleagues as a pioneering nurse, a committed trade unionist, a life-long socialist and a passionate defender of the NHS.

Robert Quick is East Midlands associate regional secretary and regional head at health for Unison (now working as Human resources Director)

COHSE historian Mick Carpenter stated

Jim Quick as a charming man and a progressive who sought to take COHSE into the modem era while I remaining true to its principles.

In the 1950s and 60s he embraced the new philosophies of care that took mental health out of the asylum era. He also took a courageous stand on unpopular issues such as racism against nurses from abroad. The present generation of nurses needs to acknowledge the debt they owe to men like Jim.

Nursing Times 22 October 1997