This week’s blog focuses on the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital (PMR).
Originally named The Edinburgh Hospital for Crippled Children, this was the first specialist orthopaedic hospital in Scotland. The foundation stone was laid in 1929 in Fairmilehead, and its first two wards were opened in 1932. By 1936, four wards were open, each containing 25 beds. In 1934, the name was first changed to Princess Margaret Rose Hospital for Crippled Children and by 1937 the word ‘crippled’ was dropped. In 1957 the name was changed to the Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital, as it was by then also used for treating adults.
|An aerial photograph of the Hospital, taken in 1973 (LHSA ref: PH5/85).|
During the 1930s and 1940s, the main crippling diseases were tuberculosis and osteomyelitis (a bacterial infection of the bones), and the common treatment for these was to have the ends of the wards open to fresh air with frequent supplies of hot water bottles to keep patients warm and screens to keep the snow off the beds in winter. By the 1950s, instances of tuberculosis had been reduced by the efforts of public health campaigns and poliomyelitis (polio) became the main disease treated; the wards were closed off with glass screens. During the 1960s, polio was being successfully vaccinated against, however there was a rise in the number of children involved in road traffic accidents, requiring orthopaedic surgery at the hospital. Also in this decade, the use of the drug thalidomide during pregnancy resulted in cases of babies born with missing or malformed limbs, who benefitted from prosthetic limbs developed at the hospital.
As can be seen from this brief history, the PMR changed its services and skills to meet the challenges of the different illnesses and injuries which affected children and adults during the 20th century. Special pre-registration training of nurses in orthopaedics was also provided at the hospital from 1941 until 1978. The hospital finally closed in 2002, when its patients were transferred to the newly opened Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France.
LHSA’s PMR records include annual reports, administration papers and patient records. Special mention should be made of the 10,553 X-rays which have been digitised from the case notes.