1st May 2009 at 01:00
Patricia Moseley 1927-2009

Children in hospital who receive regular and open-ended visits from their parents owe much to Patricia Moseley.

Moseley, a Birmingham geography teacher who died recently, campaigned for the rights of parents to have unlimited access to their children in hospital and to be able to stay with them overnight.

Born in Norwich in 1927, Patricia Croghan was an only child. The first in her family to go on to higher education, she enrolled in a geography and botany degree at Sheffield University.

It was at a geology lecture that she met Frank Moseley. She was more gregarious than he; it took him some time to overcome his shyness (and partiality to raw onions) and ask her to dance. He was not a natural dancer, but Pat did not mind: they were engaged by the time they graduated.

She had always been interested in medicine, but was not skilled enough in the sciences to become a doctor. Instead, a love of her degree subject, combined with a fondness for children, led her to take up a job as a geography and botany teacher in King's Lynn, Norfolk.

She also began to volunteer in children's hospital wards and was struck by their Victorian austerity: parents were limited to strict visiting hours, even with the youngest children. Play was similarly rationed.

Many children found this experience traumatic, often carrying emotional scars into adult life. Her husband had been confined to a fever ward as a child and never forgot the trauma of being forcibly separated from his parents.

Pat and Frank, who had gone on to study for a PhD in geology, married in 1952. Their first child, Frances, was born a year later. Richard followed in 1956, and Caroline in 1958.

When Frank took a job at Birmingham University, Pat regularly met other lecturers' wives for lunch. She encouraged them to form a branch of the nascent National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital (Nawch), campaigning for unrestricted visiting hours for parents.

Her colleagues recall her strength and single-mindedness and her contagious energy. Her confidence and easy manner endeared her to those she worked with, and many health professionals were sympathetic to her cause. So, ultimately, was the Government because hospital visiting rules were changed.

Once her children were older, Moseley returned to work, first at Bishop Challoner secondary and later at Swanshurst, a girls' secondary, both in Birmingham. Always interested in travel, she led regular field trips in Britain and overseas. Eventually, she became deputy head of Swanshurst.

She kept up her work with Nawch, later renamed Action for Sick Children. Holidays were always spent on hospital wards, encouraging children to play. On retirement, she was appointed chair of the Birmingham Community Health Council.

She also served on the Midlands research ethics commission, reviewing the methods used by the medical community. Lay members were supposed to have finite terms on the commission, but Moseley proved indispensable and was invited to stay. She retired last year, aged 80.

Whenever she was able, she would accompany Frank on field trips abroad, particularly to Spain and the Middle East. And, when first Frances and then Caroline moved to the United States, she and Frank visited them every year for 30 years. Their trips, she pointed out, "have almost bought an aeroplane".

In 1995, she was appointed MBE for her work in children's healthcare. She has also been recognised by the city of Birmingham for services to the NHS.

In March, she was admitted to hospital for routine keyhole surgery. But her heart failed during the operation and she did not recover.

Patricia Moseley is survived by her husband Frank, three children and three grandchildren.

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