Happy Birthday, NHS!

On 5th July 1948 the Secretary for Health Aneurin Bevan officially launched an ambitious new service: the National Health Service. At its core were three principles: That it meet the needs of everyone That it be free at the point of delivery That it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay At the …

Smallpox

It has wiped out armies, killed Kings and Pharaohs, and devastated civilisations for at least 3000 (and possibly up to 10,000) years, yet the first written records mentioning smallpox only date back to 4th century China. Trade links and the expansion of empires probably brought the disease to Europe in the 7th century, and Europeans …

1977-2017: 40 years of the Queen’s Medical Centre

On 28th July 1977, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened The Queen’s Medical Centre, the first specifically-built teaching hospital in the UK. This marked her Silver Jubilee. Manuscripts and Special Collections holds a number of the hospital’s papers and photographs, including those relating to the opening event, which were acquired in October 2012. The University …

A spoonful of spermaceti helps the medicine go down

It’s that time of year when coughs, colds and flu are doing the rounds.  But how did our ancestors cope with ill-health, before the days of ready-prepared pills and potions from the local shop? Manuscripts and Special Collections holds a number of works with useful recipes to be made at home – some possibly more efficacious …

The First Cut is the Deepest

The worst experience in Charles Cullen’s young life was very nearly overlooked. The volume in which it is recorded, Uhg O 1/1, is a Treatment Book, and is unremarkable to look at. The brown binding is battered and the pages are covered in the scrawling handwriting of an 18th century doctor, complete with ink blobs and …