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Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Overview
The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh or RIE, sometimes mistakenly referred to as Edinburgh Royal Infirmary or ERI, was established in 1729 and is the oldest voluntary hospital in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. The new buildings of 1879 were claimed to be the largest voluntary hospital in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and later on the Empire. It is currently run by NHS Lothian
NHS Lothian
NHS Lothian is one of the fourteen regions of NHS Scotland. It provides healthcare services in the City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Mid Lothian and West Lothian areas. Its headquarters are at Waverley Gate, Edinburgh-Headquarters:...

.

John Munro, President of the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1712, set in motion a project to establish a "Seminary of Medical Education" in Edinburgh, of which a General Hospital was an integral part..
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Encyclopedia
The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh or RIE, sometimes mistakenly referred to as Edinburgh Royal Infirmary or ERI, was established in 1729 and is the oldest voluntary hospital in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. The new buildings of 1879 were claimed to be the largest voluntary hospital in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and later on the Empire. It is currently run by NHS Lothian
NHS Lothian
NHS Lothian is one of the fourteen regions of NHS Scotland. It provides healthcare services in the City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Mid Lothian and West Lothian areas. Its headquarters are at Waverley Gate, Edinburgh-Headquarters:...

.

Foundation and early history


John Munro, President of the Incorporation of Surgeons in 1712, set in motion a project to establish a "Seminary of Medical Education" in Edinburgh, of which a General Hospital was an integral part.. His son, Alexander Monro
Alexander Monro (primus)
Alexander Monro was the founder of Edinburgh Medical School. To distinguish him as the first of three generations of physicians of the same name, he is known as primus....

 primus, by then Professor of Anatomy, circulated an anonymous pamphlet in 1721 on the necessity and advantage of erecting a Hospital for the Sick Poor. In 1725 the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh was established in the 17th century. While the RCPE is based in Edinburgh, it is by no means just a Scottish professional body - more than half of its 7,700 Fellows, Members, Associates and Affiliates live and practice medicine outside Scotland, in 86...

 wrote to the stock-holders of the Fishery Company, which was about to be wound up, suggesting that they assign their shares for the purpose of such a hospital. Other donors included many wealthy citizens, most of the physicians and several surgeons, numerous Church of Scotland parishes (at the urging of their Assembly) and the Episcopal meeting houses in Edinburgh. The committee set up by the donors leased "a house of small rent" near the College from the University for 19 years.

Also known, at first, as the Hospital for the Sick Poor, the Physicians' Hospital, or Little House, it was established at the head of Robertson's Close on August 6, 1729. A "gentlewoman
Gentlewoman
A gentlewoman in the original and strict sense is a woman of good family, analogous to the Latin generosus and generosa...

" was engaged as Mistress or House-keeper, and a "Nurse or Servant" was hired for the patients, both women to be resident and "free of the burden of children and the care of a separate family." The physicians, who had seen the poor gratis twice weekly at their college, arranged for one of their number to attend the hospital, to see both inpatients and outpatients. Six Chirurgeon-Apothecaries (including Alexander Monro) also agreed to attend in turn, and to dispense the medicines prescribed by the physicians from their own shops, also without payment. The first patient, a lady from Caithness suffering from "chlorosis
Chlorosis (medicine)
In medicine, chlorosis is a form of anemia named for the greenish tinge of the skin of a patient. Its symptoms include lack of energy, shortness of breath, dyspepsia, headaches, a capricious or scanty appetite and amenorrhoea...

," was discharged recovered after three months. Thirty five patients were admitted in the first year, of whom 19 were cured, 5 recovered, 5 dismissed either as incurable or for irregularities and one died in the hospital (of "consumption
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

"). They came from all over Scotland, but mainly from Edinburgh and its environs. Diseases cured included pains, inflammations, agues, ulcers, cancers, palsies, flux, consumption, hysterick disorders and melancholy.

New locations



It received a Royal Charter in 1736, and in 1741 moved to a new William Adam-designed facility with 228 beds in High School Yards, near Infirmary Street. In 1832, a surgical hospital
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 was added. The surgical hospital was rebuilt in 1853. The Infirmary had public baths attached later.

In 1879, the infirmary moved to a new location, then in the fresher air of the edge of the city. The site, on Lauriston Place, had been occupied by George Watson's Hospital (a school, known then as a hospital). The school moved a short distance away to the former Merchant Maiden Hospital (another school) in Archibald Place. The original school building, by the same William Adam as the earlier infirmary, was incorporated into the new David Bryce
David Bryce
David Bryce FRSE FRIBA RSA was a Scottish architect. Born in Edinburgh, he was educated at the Royal High School and joined the office of architect William Burn in 1825, aged 22. By 1841, Bryce had risen to be Burn's partner...

-designed infirmary buildings and the chapel remained in use for the entirety of the infirmary's occupation of the site.

The earlier Infirmary Street buildings were demolished in 1884, replaced with public swimming baths and a school. Part of the colonnade of the original building may still be seen in a monument outside the city's Dreghorn Barracks
Dreghorn Barracks
Dreghorn Barracks are located in Edinburgh, Scotland. The barracks are situated at the southern edge of the city, south of Colinton, and adjacent to the Edinburgh City Bypass. The present barracks complex was largely built in 1937–1939 to designs by William Alexander Ross. The barracks were...

. The original surgical theatre, which was on the roof of the 1741 building, was re-erected in the garden of a South Side villa. The surgical hospital of 1832/1853 later accommodated the Geography Department of the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

, and other university departments, including Natural Philosophy (now Physics), filled up the High School Yards site.

In the 1920s the hospital required to expand, and once again George Watson's College was asked to move. An arrangement was reached to acquire the school's site, with the school to remain there until new premises could be built elsewhere. By 1932 the school's new premises in Colinton Road were ready, and the old Archibald Place building was demolished to make way for the Simpson Memorial Pavilion, used primarily as a maternity wing.

In 1948, the infirmary was incorporated into the National Health Service
NHS Scotland
NHS Scotland is the publicly funded healthcare system of Scotland. Although they are separate bodies the organisational separation between NHS Scotland and the other three healthcare organisations each commonly called the National Health Service in the United Kingdom tends to be hidden from its...

 (NHS). Over the years it has maintained close ties to the University of Edinburgh.

New site



In August 1998 a contract was signed to build a new Royal Infirmary at Little France
Little France
Little France is a suburb of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It is on the A7.The area falls within the parish of Liberton, and acquired its name from members of the entourage brought to Scotland from France by Mary, Queen of Scots, who took up residence there...

, a replacement hospital on a mostly green field site
Greenfield land
Greenfield land is a term used to describe undeveloped land in a city or rural area either used for agriculture, landscape design, or left to naturally evolve...

 in the south-east of the city. The fact that it serves not just Edinburgh, but also Midlothian and East Lothian makes it a central focus for Edinburgh and its hinterland. The new hospital is linked to the Chancellor's Building, the main teaching facility for the University of Edinburgh Medical School
University of Edinburgh Medical School
The University of Edinburgh Medical School is part of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Edinburgh. Established nearly 283 years ago, Edinburgh Medical School is one of the oldest medical schools in Scotland and the UK...

.

In May 2001, Lothian Health Trust sold the 20 acres (80,937.2 m²) Lauriston Place site for £30 million to Southside Capital Ltd., a consortium comprising Taylor Woodrow, Kilmartin Property Group, and the Bank of Scotland. It is to be redeveloped as the Quartermile
Quartermile
Quartermile is the marketing name given to the mixed use redevelopment of the former Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh site, in Lauriston, Edinburgh, overlooking The Meadows. The project is a joint venture between Gladedale Group and the Bank of Scotland...

 housing, shopping, leisure and hotel development. Much of the David Bryce infirmary will remain visible, but some infirmary buildings have been demolished. After pressure from conservationists including the Cockburn Association
Cockburn Association
The Cockburn Association is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is one of the world's oldest architectural conservation and urban planning monitoring organisations....

, architects Simpson & Brown were commissioned to investigate the possibility of the William Adam building (the original George Watson's College
George Watson's College
George Watson's College, known informally as Watson's, is a co-educational independent day school in Scotland, situated on Colinton Road, in the Merchiston area of Edinburgh. It was first established as a hospital school in 1741, became a day school in 1871 and was merged with its sister school...

) being taken down and re-erected at the school's Colinton Road campus, or possibly a new site elsewhere.

The Little France
Little France
Little France is a suburb of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It is on the A7.The area falls within the parish of Liberton, and acquired its name from members of the entourage brought to Scotland from France by Mary, Queen of Scots, who took up residence there...

 site initially attracted some controversy in the local media, such as the Edinburgh Evening News
Edinburgh Evening News
The Edinburgh Evening News is a local newspaper based in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is published daily . It has a circulation of 68,000 and is owned by Johnston Press, which also owns The Scotsman and many regional titles throughout the UK.Much of the copy contained in the Evening News concerns local...

, not least because the city's main accident and emergency facilities are some distance from the city centre, and also because the public transport links to the site had been criticised as inadequate. The hospital is now served by many bus routes to and from all areas of the city. The new location is also served by a regular service to St Johns Hospital in Livingston and Livingston Bus Terminal, the 400/401 are run by E&M Horsburgh and funded by West Lothian and Edinburgh Councils and NHS Lothian.

The new building was designed by Keppie Design and constructed under a PFI
Private Finance Initiative
The private finance initiative is a way of creating "public–private partnerships" by funding public infrastructure projects with private capital...

 system. The development of the new site cost £184 million , £34 million more than the £150 originally budgeted.

The building was built without air conditioning, and portable units are required for the summer months. Though a 21st century hospital, the wards are traditional style six beds placed in a larger room, with curtains for modesty when required.

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children located in Edinburgh is to be rebuilt on the Little France site beside the Infirmary. It is planned to be open by 2016 /17.

The Infirmary in literature


The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has often been described in works of fiction, biography and history, and depicted from both the point of view of the sick and those caring for them. A recent example is the series of mainly humorous novels by Colin Douglas
Colin Douglas
This article relates to Colin Douglas the Scottish Author, the following is a link to Colin Douglas the British TV actor Colin Douglas Colin Douglas is the pseudonym of a Scottish novelist, Colin Thomas Currie, born in Glasgow in 1945, who was schooled at Hamilton Academy before graduating in...

, which cover the postwar era up to the 1980s. The first of these was filmed for BBC television in 1986.

External links