Poland was the Society’s second foray into to the Eastern bloc. In Warsaw the Society visited the First Surgical Clinic run by Professor Nielubowicz. Members were entertained in the Medical Club, under the auspices of the Trade Union of Health Workers, which negotiates the salaries of all health workers. Doctors were paid poorly by comparison with architects or engineers, being considered unreliable party members.
On qualification a doctor might earn £20 a month (a British houseman earned three times as much at that time) and a Professor £80.
The Chest Clinic was better equipped than the University Clinic and here Sir Clement Price Thomas had already, in his own words, “lit a thoracic fire” after the Second World War. Tuberculosis was rife, and 90% of cows were infected. Unlike Warsaw, Cracow had survived the war well, the unforeseen speed of the Russian advance having left the Germans no time to destroy the city as they had Warsaw.
Good work was seen in Professor Oszachi’s Surgical Clinic though the buildings were old. A gift from the United States, the 300-bed Children’s Hospital was said to be the most modern in Eastern Europe but running costs were high and two engineers had to be sent to the USA to learn how to manage the air-conditioning. On their return they were paid more than the Senior Paediatrician. Members were treated with warmth and friendliness throughout this visit, tinged perhaps with not a little envy.