Having already known St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney via work as an Almoner, she went there in 1958 to do her research into the control of pain. At St Josephs she knew a lot of practical nursing was going on, with limited help from busy GPs. There was a steady throughput of patients, many of whom had terminal cancer and had significant pain, and again, like in St Luke’s, the sisters were paying attention to Total Pain, although they hadn’t called it that. Cicely showed by trials with the Brompton Mixture on their patients that morphine addiction was not a problem, and persuaded them to use it. Cicely soon became in effect Honorary Medical Director at St Joseph’s.
As a doctor, Cicely knew that the medical profession was very reluctant to use morphine or heroin to control pain, although they were the best drugs for it, and only given by injection – not all that pleasant for patients. Because Doctors were scared of morphine addiction, they were loath to give regular amounts but waited until patients were virtually screaming for help. In her research on patients at St Joseph’s Hospice, she set about determining whether orally administered morphine or heroin were successfully controlling pain with little and often doses, and whether there was any risk of addiction. Indeed, if somebody was dying, does it really matter?
Cicely accumulated records of over 1,000 patients whilst she was at St Joseph’s. She took many photographs of patients, first as they arrived, anxious, with pain, generally exhausted from tough experiences in general hospitals. Photo’d again after a few days when pain was controlled, how different they were – they had become themselves again. She proved her case completely. She used her photos in lectures to great effect and eventual success….she never wrote up her thesis, though she was elected FRCP because of St Christopher’s success and her vast number of papers and other publications. All credit to the Royal College – her bronze bust is prominent there.