How did people view hospitals?

In the 1800s hospitals in were places to avoid. They were ‘gateways to death’ entered only by the desperate and destitute.

“The fact that patients had to pay a deposit on admission – to cover burial costs – probably did little to make them more popular. Patients who could not afford this money still found it difficult to resist admission, as there were few other options for medical care. The view of hospitals as places of last resort fuelled repeated efforts over the centuries to clean them up and improve patients’ chances of recovery.”

By the 1920s and 1930s hospitals began to lose their former bad associations as places of ‘last resort’ before an inevitable and painful death. As their ability to cure illness improved, due to developments in surgery, medical diagnostics and treatment (such as radium treatment for cancer) even the rich, who were usually treated at home, saw the benefits of being treated in a hospital. Voluntary general hospitals also began to shake off negative connotations like poverty, infection and death. In the 1930s local government started to develop former workhouse infirmaries, like Hackney and St Leonard’s, into general hospitals. These were places were aimed at everyone.

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This page was added by Lisa Rigg on 27/03/2010.

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