Fort Street Scandals: The Uncomfortable Exit of Mr Eves

The New House Surgeon

Decisions about the Fort Street Hospital were made by the Committee of the Isle of Man General Hospital and Dispensary. Although this group often contained doctors and medical staff, it was also made up of subscribers (people who gave money to the charity regularly), churchmen and prominent members of the community. They had the power to decide the Hospital’s rules, who it treated, how the money was spent, and who was hired.

Dr Spencer’s successor as House Surgeon at the new hospital was another doctor in his twenties. Mr Augustus William Eves was the son of a surgeon in Cheltenham, and was awarded the post as “there was not a single application from any medical man residing on the island”.

Arguments Break Out

From 1851 rows broke out between the Committee and the young House Surgeon, and things came to a head in early 1853. Eves was accused of neglecting a patient with a scrofulic leg and ‘advised’ by the Committee to resign. He did so, but collected testimonials and support from other professionals working in the hospital to show the accusations as false. The Committee admitted their mistakes, gave him back his job, and then promptly fired him again.

Public Opinions

The row rumbled on for a month, with the Committee’s explanations, Eves’ rebuttals and many opinions expressed publicly, including those of Eves’ father. Public opinion tended to side with Mr Eves. The newspaper Mona’s Herald also spoke out in his support, while the Manx Sun refused to take sides. The issue even got a mention in the British medical Journal The Lancet.

The incident was embarrassing for the hospital. It created a lot of public debate and raised wider questions about how decisions were made about the running of a medical institution.

Mr Eves was still living on island according to the 1861 census, but had moved back to Gloucestershire by 1871. He died in 1892.

Opinions of the Press

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