In the Footsteps of Florence Nightingale

The young Florence Nightingale


A weekend visit to A & E in October with a Sjogrens Syndrome side effect problem necessitated a visit to my local A & E to ensure infection was minimalised to a bad wound.


The local hospital concerned was “Krankenhaus Florence Nightingale” located in the North Dusseldorf district of Kaiserswerth.


The experience was quite different similar visits made to UK casualty departments, in Peterborough, Addenbrooke’s and Royal Berks. Hospital in Reading.


Florence Nightingale Hospital, a Protestant Church Funded Hospital,  is nearing the completion of a massive state of the art rebuilding.  One of many hospitals in the City with A & E departments.  Unlike Peterborough City Hospital good quality existing buildings have been retained and upgraded rather than being razed to the ground.  Allowing maximum spend to be allocated to the new construction and high quality fitting out. Despite many hospitals here being funded historically by church or religious organizations there is no religious demarkation at all for patients.



The new wings of Florence Nightingale Hospital in Kaiserswerth.  Casualty & Maternity Building on left side open.  New Main Entrance and additional wards due to open early 2018.  Earlier buildings to the rear



A & E Parking was easy with plentiful parking just outside the entrance to the new  A & E department.  Ambulances enter by a separate dedicated area.


A patient “Check in Room” enables each patient to speak directly with a nurse who swipes the Insurance health-card or EC health-card.  The condition is triaged at this point of entry.


Shortly after I was taken to an emergency room for blood tests to be taken.

The “state of the art” equipment in this resuscitation room had to be seen to be believed.  WOW factor 10 out of 10.  After bloods were taken I was asked to wait about 25 minutes for the blood test results to come through.


After about 30 minutes I was taken to a casualty room, no cubicles or open areas with privacy curtains here.  Each A & E patient was allocated their own room again equipped to the proverbial nines.  The overall cleanliness and hygiene disciplines were almost beyond the comprehension of this former NHS patient.  The staff were all smartly uniformed right down to the cleanliness of their shoes and all doctors wear whites (jackets, trousers, shoes).  Again cleanliness is 100%.  Even mattresses and bedding is plastic wrapped in a clean room environment before being sent to the various wards.  No NHS style notices Sellotaped to the walls here!!!



During my stay of about 2.5 hours I was seen by a senior doctor (UK Consultant Level) and four other doctors who undertook different tests on my legs and chest.  Before being discharged I was given a full report of all the hospital’s tests and actions along with all blood test data to take to my GP.

It was also noted that the hospitals over here function very well by employing of German nationals without the apparent need to bring in staff from around the world.


Discharge was confirmed by the senior duty doctor and nursing staff ensured I was given all the correct paperwork.    Very Impressed!


Could the NHS Achieve this?  -   Not Fully as things stand , but huge reductions should be made to the excessive tiers in the UK's over expensive executive / political bureaucracy and vastly reduce the massive overload overload of unnecessary tiers of administration roles would have to take place, reduce the levels of incompetent Government interference.  Put a stop to greedy individuals milking the system for their own ends and financial greed. These are the first steps on a journey that should have taken place many years ago.



Prescriptions are generally not free and medication costs are higher than the UK.  Pensioners pay a reduced fixed fee for each item of medication, prescriptions usually cover a three month supply. 


In Germany clinical organisations appear to have more frontline staff and less back office staff.  Managerial and Administrative tiers are far more streamlined.  The tax system which funds the NHS does appear to be in Crisis.  In Germany money is paid by taxpayers into a number of  "Krankenkasse" bodies (Health insurance).   The big difference is the insurance organisations are profitable, It is often said they are awash with money and can afford to offer high quality medical care to patients.

The NHS always appears to be in a financial crisis - perhaps there is something to learn about health service management by comparing how the NHS operates with the very effecitve healthcare systems  in Germany, Holland and certain other European countries.



An early Hospital Building in Kaiseswerth Market Square from Nightingale's time here. The original "Mutterhaus"

Now updated and converted to a home for the care of senior citizens.  Also includes a charitable coffee house - open to the public.

Pastor Theodor Fleidner 

Florence Nightingale's mentor and teacher


The Florence Nightingale Connection,  why would a state of the art German Hospital be named after the most famous British Nurse in History.

Well the name did not come about as just a as good name to call a hospital.


The history goes back to 1822 when a young protestant pastor Theodor Fliedner moved to the historic catholic town of Kaiserswerth situated on the banks of the Rhine some miles north of Dusseldorf.  This was an era when new industrialization was changing rural communities , health, crime  and social welfare problems abounded.  Fliedner and his wife Fredericka decided to try and make a difference.  Unable to fund his mission locally Fliedner lobbied in wealthier areas of Germany, The Netherlands and England to fund his mission.


By 1836 the Fliedner’s had opened the Mutterhaus (Mother’s House) in Kaiserswerth Market Square to care for the sick, ex convicts, children, the old and the poor.   Fliedner created a concept where unmarried younger women would be trained to care for the sick and needy, to distinguish the trained women they all wore a bonnet which was a tradition in the North Rhine areas.  This bonnet was subsequently to become synonymous with nurses across the world. 


An important concept introduced by the Fliedner’s was the creation and introduction of local help and self help groups in the community.  We in our own Sjogrens Self help group are carrying on this Fliedner tradition today.


Florence Nightingale was born on 12 May 1820 in Florence,  Italy into a wealthy British family, her father was later the High Sheriff of Hampshire.

Living surrounded by luxury including two stately homes the Nightingale family was in a different world to that of the sick and hospitals.


Florence started visiting hospitals in 1844 due to boredom with the lack of opportunity within her lofty social circle.  Efforts to train in the UK came to nothing as ladies of her status could not be seen to care for the sick.  Nurses were not deemed to need training and had no social standing in Britain at that time.


During 1850 Florence was taking another grand tour to Egypt where she found care for the sick to be of a much higher standard than practiced in Britain at the time.  She noted the discipline regime of Catholic Sisters played an important part.  She returned to Britain via Germany to make a visit to Pastor and Fredericka Fliedner in Kaiserswerth.   Florence spent two weeks observing care in Kaiserswerth before returning to Britain.


Despite some serious levels of parental disapproval Florence returned to Kaiserswerth in 1851 and enrolled with Theodor Fliedner to undertake a full nursing training course.


She retuned to Britain after her course bringing with her all the lessons learned about the role of a nurse.  After inspecting a number of British hospitals Florence obtained the role of Superintendent at the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London in 1854.  The rest is history!!!


It was therefore natural that the hospital in Kaiserswerth would be named after Theodore Fliedner’s most famous and outstanding student, who changed the world of nursing based on what she had learned in theory and practice during her time in Kaiserswerth.   Many of the buildings associated with Florence Nightingale still exist in and around the Kaiserswerth Market Square. and would be familiar to her even today.


The Florence Nightingale hospital is to the east of the town on what was green fields back when Florence lived and trained here.   Florence Nightingale died on 13 August 1910 in South Street, London. W1