Hospitals, Nurses, Barber-Surgeons and Surgeons in History - A Half-day Course on 13 October

Find out about the development of hospitals and the emergence of professional nurses and surgeons. In this half-day course, Kevin Brown covers two topics:

Session 1 Aspects of hospital and nursing history

In the 19th century the ‘deserving poor’ could receive hospital treatment in a voluntary hospital established as a charity and dependent upon subscriptions from wealthy benefactors. The totally indigent were condemned to treatment in the poor law infirmary. The poor law infirmaries were at first attached to workhouses but later were purpose built. The best of them aspired to equal the voluntary hospitals. However, they never quite lost the stigma attached to them. This remained even after local authorities took over control before the NHS was formed in 1948, introducing a unified hospital service for the first time. In the same period that modern hospitals were developing, the status of the nurse advanced from that of a servant to a vocation or profession. This was related to the introduction of the Nightingale system and other reform movements in nursing.

Session 2 The Apprentice Barber-Surgeon to FRCS: Why is a Surgeon a Mr and not a Dr?

Compared to the high status of a university educated physician, the surgeon originally had a low status in the medical hierarchy. The surgeon served an apprenticeship and was a member of a livery company, like other medieval craftsmen such as barbers. In 1540 guilds of surgeons and barbers were merged to form the Company of Barber Surgeons responsible for licensing surgeons to practice in London and Westminster. As the academic basis of surgery developed in the 18th century, surgery itself became more professional. The Company of Surgeons, the forerunner of today’s Royal College of Surgeons, became independent from the Barbers. The Medical Registration Act of 1858 recognised the surgeon as the equal of the physician as modern medicine took its place as a profession

The Lecturer: Kevin Brown  is an authority on the history of medicine. He is Trust Archivist to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum Curator at St Mary’s Hospital, London, a museum and archives which he established.

He was Chairman of the London Museums of Health and Medicine, 2001-04, and is a Trustee of the charity St Mary’s Hospital Association. He has been awarded a Gladstone’s Library Scholarship for 2015. He is the author of several books and lectures widely.

A half-day course on Saturday, 13 October (10:30-13:0)  with Kevin Brown. Cost £20.00/£16.00 SoG members. Places should be pre-booked, through our website or by telephone: 020 7553 3290 (Tue-Thu & Sat). Do you have a question? email the events department. 

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