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Blandford forcible feeding tube, London, England, 1920-1930

Invalids and people who were mentally ill may refuse food or have difficulty swallowing. This feeding tube administered food to them. It was invented by Dr Henry Edmund Blandford in 1866. The instrument was inserted into the mouth and twisted so the cross bars held the mouth open. Attendants then poured liquid food down the throat of the patient. Dr Blandford suggested it could also be used in cases of tetanus and ‘surgical afflictions of the jaw’ or where feeding though the nose was not possible. Such instruments could theoretically have been forcibly used on those on hunger strikes, such as those undertaken by imprisoned suffragettes in the Edwardian period. This feeding tube was made by instrument maker Down Brothers of London.

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    Glossary: nursing

    The study and practice of caring for and waiting on the sick, injured, or others unable to look after themselves or to deal with their specific medical needs.

    Glossary: feeding tube

    A piece of flexible tubing passed through the oral pharynx and into the oesophagus and stomach, through which liquid food is fed. Used to feed patient or in some cases force feeding in case of hunger strikers.

    Glossary: suffrage

    The right to vote and own property