Perched Like Doves follows the experience of a student nurse as she takes on hospital life at St Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts) in a bygone age when nurses still wore traditional uniforms and pretty caps; Matron was the matriarch, the Sisters (all single women) were the lynchpin of the hospital, the senior doctors were always addressed as ‘sir’ and the medical students were male.
Only one out of every ten young women applicants to the hospital were accepted for training, the hours were long and arduous and the feet always painful. Nevertheless, the story is full of genuine laugh- out- loud moments and heart- rending tales of bravery as well as stories tinged with trauma and tragedy although there was still time for romance.
Based on Greta Barnes’s diary kept throughout her training and fully illustrated, Perched Like Doves is an honest appreciation showing the camaraderie of hospital life and the sense of a close-knit community. It is a reminder of the gentler days before the turmoil of the National Health Service, the advent of modern technology and the introduction of the degree nurse of a time which has changed beyond measure.