Friday, 20 January 2012

Royal Edinburgh Hospital enclosures listing

A frequently used series of volumes in LHSA’s collection are the casebooks of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. These contain case histories of patients, written in a standard format. A feature of the casebooks is that they often have additional items inserted into them known as enclosures. These include items such as letters, charts and laboratory reports, designed to augment the information written in the book. They are usually glued or attached with metal fasteners. A decision was taken some years ago to remove all of the enclosures and house them in separate boxes; metal fasteners had rusted and damaged the volumes, and some enclosures had become loose increasing the risk that they may fall out and become separated from the relevant patient case notes. A searchable finding aid is being produced, listing each enclosure in order to improve the accessibility of these items, with information on types of document, dates, names and number of pages.

An interesting enclosure found within casebook 94 (LHB7/51/94) is a pamphlet regarding the ‘RULES, DIRECTIONS, AND RATES OF BOARD FOR THE ADMISSION OF PATIENTS’. The casebook covers the years 1910-1913, and the Physician Superintendent is noted as Dr Robertson who took office in 1908, so it is assumed that the document comes from that time period. Patients were admitted to the Hospital either as ‘paupers’ who would be paid for by the parish council, or ‘private’ who could pay varying rates depending on the quality of accommodation they would receive. Patients could be admitted by certification of their medical condition or enter voluntarily. Readers of the pamphlet are told that ‘No publicity whatever is involved in the proceedings connected with the admission of a Patient, the documents being private and confidential’, no doubt trying to allay fears of patients and their family, due to the stigma that often surrounded mental illness, something that is still pervasive today.

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