Professionals
Click to change to People with Diabetes or Family Members
   
In 1951 (left)

To view image in larger window click on desired thumbnail. Click again to enlarge further.

In 1951 (left) In 1942, 3rd from right Patricia Torrens 2007
 
 
Interview 58 Patricia Torrens

Dietitian
Born in Market Rasen, Lincs in 1921.


Overview: Patricia Torrens was one of the earliest dietitians in the UK. She trained at Atholl Crescent domestic science college in Edinburgh and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and worked as an assistant dietitian in the part of St. Thomas`s Hospital that was evacuated to Surrey during the Second World War. After the war, she worked as a cook in the main kitchen at St. Thomas`s and as an assistant catering officer at Moorfields Eye Hospital. She was Chief Dietitian at Westminster Hospital from 1951-71 and became Dietetics Adviser to the Department of Health and Social Security from 1971-84.

Please note that Overview relates to date of recording 30 March 2007

 Short samples

1 Her training at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in the early 1940s included work in a diet kitchen, next to a ward for people with diabetes. Wartime rationing allowed extra protein to people with diabetes, but otherwise their diet was extremely restricted. [ 57 secs ]

2 When she worked as a cook at St. Thomas’s from 1946-8, she gained experience of large-scale catering which helped her to avoid the mutual suspicion that often existed between dietitians and hospital catering managers after the war. [ 54 secs ]

 
 Available interview tracks
From here you can listen to any tracks that are of interest or read the transcript. If a track is highlighted this indicates it contains the subject you searched for. Clicking [Play On] will play the entire interview from that point onwards.

Where an interviewee refers to a particular item, there is sometimes a picture of that item among the thumbnails beneath the interviewee’s main photo and in the Extras section.
To play all interview tracks from the beginning, please click the [Play All] button here.
01 Dad GP, Mum nurse. Some education at home – TB. Boarded - grammar, then private. Mum discovered new profession – dietetics.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
02 Some science graduates; most did preparatory course. I did prep course at Atholl Crescent college & Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, 1940-2. Then 18 months dietetics, Edinburgh Royal, 1942-3.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
03 First theoretical, then practical – some in outpatients. Daily diabetic clinic – Prof Derrick Dunlop. Diabetic ward kitchen.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
04 Weighed cabbage. Diabetics had extra rations. Lawrence Line diet.
In outpatients, accompanied Derrick Dunlop. Little contact on ward with medical staff or patients.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
05 Appointed assistant dietitian, St. Thomas`s. Evacuated to Hydestile, Surrey – inpatients. Diet kitchen. I supervised nurses` cooking & sometimes taught patients. Difficult to get nurses` cooperation – had no diet training.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
06 Dietitians - SRNs or science graduates who`d mostly trained in America. Training courses in Edinburgh, Glasgow and – for science graduates – at Kings College, London. To qualify - catering, domestic science or science degree.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
07 1945-6, looked after mother. Returned to St. Thomas`s as main kitchen cook – learnt mass catering. Then assistant catering manager & dietitian at Moorfields Eye Hospital. Surgical staff not interested. Requests for diet from nurses – Lawrence Line.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
08 Appointed Chief Dietitian, Westminster Hospital, 1951 – 71. Diabetic clinic run by Frank Hart. Lawrence Line diet relaxed – more carbohydrate. Rationing ended. Experimented - low carbohydrate loaf.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
09 No diabetic ward: diabetics in many wards. Separate diet kitchen at first. Separate menu for diabetics. Then developed choice for all patients & diabetics chose foods marked suitable. Still separate desserts, but more like other patients. At first dietitians & caterers mutually suspicious.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
10 One diabetic clinic weekly – I attended. Answered patients` questions. Diet sheets amended to suit them. More relaxed.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
11 3 months study tour, USA,1965 – more liberal approach to diabetic diet. Gradual relaxation,1951-71. Oral hypoglycaemic agents. No big dietary changes.
Appointed as adviser to DHSS – to advise hospital catering managers.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
12 When appointed, dietitian`s work changing from solely hospital to community also. Health authorities appointed district dietitians: I helped train them in Harrogate.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
13 Beginning of healthy eating campaign. All food good in right amounts.
District dietitians trained all professionals in contact with diabetics. GPs knew little. By 1971, medical training beginning to include nutrition.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
14 1971-84: diet treatments in hospitals patchy.
District dietitians appointed community dietitians.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
15 In 1943, only major teaching hospitals had dietitians. I was only second one at Westminster. By 1971, department of 6. Previously, catering done by elderly nurse.
[Listen] [Full Text]
[Play On]
Transcript
The full transcript of this interview is available to view.


You may download the full transcript from here.


Extras
There are no extra items for this interview

CV
A CV outline is available for this interviewee by clicking below


Oral History of Diabetes © 2005 - 2016 | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Built by Within