By chance, I read The Echo of a Footfall on the back of Pat Barker's Regeneration which covers the work of WHR Rivers' treatment of soldiers in mental wards, mainly those suffering from shell shock, during the First World War. Pat Scampion's book follows on chronologically. And although it focusses on female patients, it details how treatment and care of patients has evolved until quite recently. The story focuses on a group of women, at first almost haplessly confined to a workhouse, and how they grew in strength, confidence and independence with reforms and changes to the system. But what stood out most for me was the love and support they shared with each another. An important story, well written and beautifully told.
by Charles Monkhouse
Patricia Scampion is a retired paediatrician who worked in or visited a number of the old residential hospitals for people with a mental illness or with learning or physical disabilities in the early years of her training. She has two daughters and granddaughters, and lives with her husband in Derbyshire.