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Smoking – see Morals and Fashion

For advances in cloning, see Science and Technology.


Hospitals – see Appendix 1.


27/9/2017, The World Health Organisation declared that measles had been ‘eliminated’ from the UK, Spain and Denmark for the frst time ever; these countries had been free of the disease for 36 months. 33 of the 53 countries in Europe wree now measles-free. However doctors in the UK were still treating 1,000 cases from overseas. Over 95% of British children had been vaccinated woth the MMR jab, despite publicity against it.  In 1961 there were 764,000 measles cases in Britain, resulting in 152 deaths.

2016, There were 216 million malaria cases worldwide, 80% of them in India and 14 sub-Saharan countires. 445,000 people died of malaris.

2/2/2016, The World Health Organisation declared Zika to be a global emergency, on a par with Ebola, as Brazil mobilised 220,000 troops to fight the disease, spraying against mosquitoes and checking for stagnant water where the mosquito might breed. However the Rio carnival went ahead and Brazil said it would not cancel the Olympics. Cases of microcephaly, which first appeared in Polynesia in 2014, rose in Brazil to 3,700 since October 2015, compared with fewer than 200 in 2014. An estimated 1.5 million Brazilians now carry the Zika virus, which usually causes very little illness in adults, so they may be unaware of any risk to their unborn baby.

27/1/2016 , Concerns grew about the Zika virus, which if contracted by pregnant women could cause the baby to have microcephalus. The virus is spread by mosquitoes and may affect all the Americas except Canada and Chile, also much of Africa and southern Asia.

29/12/2015, For the first time since March 2014, Guinea was declared free from Ebola virus transmissions by the World Health Organization.

26/7/2015, Ebola continued in Guinea and Sierra Leone, albeit at much lower levels than the peak of the late-2014 outbreak. The Lancet reported on a vaccine with a 1005 success rate, as total cases from February 2014 now stood at: Guinea, 3,786 cases, 2,520 deaths; Liberia, 10,672 cases, 4,808 deaths; Sierra Leone, 13,290 cases, 3,951 deaths. There had also been 1 case in Italy, 8 cases and 6 deaths in Mali, 20 cases and 8 deaths in Nigeria, 1 case in Senegal, 1 case in Spain, 1 case in the UK, and 4 cases, 1 death in the USA.

21/1/2015, Confirmed Ebola cases in Guinea reached 2,806 cases with 1,814 deaths. In Liberia cases eached 8,331 cases with 3,538 deaths. In Sierra Leone cases reached 10,124, with 3,062 deaths.

9/1/2015, Confirmed Ebola cases in Sierra Leone reached 7,718, with early 3,000 deaths. However the epidemic seemed to be abating, with many areas free of new cases for over a month.

31/12/2014, During 2014, malaria killed 627,000 worldwide, 77% of these being children under 5. In 2014 there were 207 million new cases of malaria, and Africa lost an estimated US$ 12 million productivity due to the disease.

22/10/2014, Total Ebola cases now stood at 9,936, with 4,877 deaths. Mali reported its first case.

18/10/2014, The total Ebola toll was as follows. Guinea, 1,519 cases, 7788 deaths. Liberia, 4,076 cases, 2,316 deaths. Nigeria, 20 cases, 8 deaths. Senegal, 1 case, 0 deaths. Sierra Leone, 3,410 cases, 1,200 deaths. Overall total, 9,191 cases, 4,546 deaths.

11/10/2014, The number of Ebola deaths in West Africa passed 4,000.

26/9/2014, The total Ebola toll was as follows. Democratic Republic of Congo, 70 cases, 42 deaths. Guinea, 1,074 cases, 648 deaths. Liberia, 3,458 cases, 1,830 deaths. Nigeria, 20 cases, 8 deaths. Senegal, 1 case, 0 deaths. Sierra Leone, 2,021 cases, 605 deaths.

20/9/2014, The total Ebola toll was as follows. Guinea, 1,008 cases, 632 deaths. Liberia, 3,022 cases, 1,578 deaths. Nigeria, 20 cases, 8 deaths. Senegal, 1 case, 0 deaths. Sierra Leone, 1,813 cases, 593 deaths.

31/7/2014, The number of fatalities in the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia passed 1,200; cases were also reported in Nigeria.

2011, A continuous-flow artificial heart was developed that made blood flow through the body with no heartbeat or pulse.

10/8/2010, The World Health Organisation declared the H1N1 influenza pandemic officially over.

10/1/2010, Deaths from a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe now amounted to 4,293, with 98,741 cases reported.

11/6/2009, The influenza strain H1N1 sparked fears of a global flu pandemic.

28/4/2009, The Mexican Government confirmed an outbreak of Swine Flu in humans.

12/12/2005, Scientists announced they had created mice with small amounts of human brain cells, to study neurological disorders.

30/11/2005, Surgeons in France carried out the first human face transplant.

30/9/2005, The UN issued warnings that a pandemic of Avian Flu might be imminent, and kill between 5 and 150 million people.

28/7/2004, Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, died aged 88.

5/7/2003, The WHO declared SARS to be ‘contained’

2/9/2001, Death of heart transplant pioneer Dr Christiaan Barnard.

25/10/2000. Britain’s oldest man, Bill Lee, died. He attributed his longevity to a dram of whisky every night, and died peacefully in his sleep aged 108. He was born on 13/1/1892 in Stoke on Trent. He was shot in the arm and blinded in one eye whilst serving as a sapper in France during World War One, and was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honour by the French Government for his services in war. Afterwards, Mr Lee returned home to manage a Milletts store in Hanley, Stoke, until he retired at the age of 72. He spent is later years in a residential home. He left a brother and sister, four grandchildren, ten great grandchildren, and two great-great grandsons. He was recognised as Britain’s oldest man by the Guinness Book of Records in August 2000.

31/7/2000. Cases of sexually transmitted diseases had risen sharply among young people in the past year, according to official UK figures.

27/7/2000. Tony Blair’s government unveiled its national plan for the Health Service, with a ten-year package of sweeping reforms and restructuring. The days of dirty wards, inedible food, and entertainment restricted to volunteer-staffed radio stations were over, according to the proposals.

26/6/2000. British and American scientists announced they had succeeded in decoding the 3 billion pairs of human DNA.

13/8/1998, UK authorities warned of a rat invasion, saying there were 750,000 rat-infested homes in Britain.

2/7/1997. The British Medical Association announced that drugs derived from cannabis were to be made legally available for cancer patients and others suffering from debilitating diseases.

26/9/1996. The first death under legalised euthanasia in Australia.

1/7/1996, The Northern Territory in Australia legalised voluntary euthanasia.

18/2/1996. The World Health Organisation sent experts to Gabon where ten people had died of the Ebola virus.

1995, In Britain, 30% of deaths were caused by coronary heart disease, compared to just 1% of deaths in 1930. The increased prevalence of high fat foods, previously only accessible to the very wealthy, was blamed.

23/4/1993. The World Health Organisation declared tuberculosis a global emergency, saying TB could kill 30 million people by 2003.

16/11/1992. A brain-dead woman had been artificially kept alive to allow her foetus to be born; however she miscarried and the life support was turned off.

24/11/1991. Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the rock group Queen, died of AIDS, aged 45.

10/10/1992, Tens of thousands rallied in Washington, D. C., calling on the government to dedicate more funding to combating HIV/AIDS.

17/6/1991. 8,000 scientists met for an international conference on AIDS at Florence. AIDS was now in 163 countries and especially severe in Africa; the WHO estimated that over 1.5 million people had developed AIDS, with a total of 8–10 million infected. WHO expected a total of 40 million AIDS cases by 2000. In the USA, 170 had the disease, and a further 6,000 contracted it every month; in the UK 4,500 cases had been reported since 1981.

4/6/1991. The AIDS epidemic worsened in Malawi, with 37% of the population now carrying the virus.

8/5/1991. UK scientists discovered the gene that determines sex.

2/5/1991. The World Health Organisation estimated that 40 million people will have the AIDS virus by 2000.

11/12/1990, The British Government announced it would award £42 million to haemophiliacs who became infected with HIV after being treated with contaminated Inhibitor Factor VIII.

8/3/1990. Over 3,000 people in the UK now had AIDS.

30/1/1990, Surgeons at Guy’s Hospital, London, performed the first surgery on a baby in its mother’s womb.

11/1/1990. In the UK, 1,612 have died of AIDS.

16/5/1989. The first successful hole-in-the –heart operation on an adult was performed at the Brook Hospital, Greenwich, London. The patient was 66-year-old Eileen Molyneaux.

16/2/1989, Harley Street kidney specialist Dr Raymond Crockett resigned over a ‘cash for kidneys’ scandal in which organs were taken from poor Turks for wealthy patients.

8/11/1988. In the UK, the death toll from AIDS reached 1,002, with 1,862 cases reported. A government report issued on 30/11/1988 feared that up to 50,000 in the UK could be HIV+ and that by 1992 17,000 AIDS deaths might have occurred.

5/9/1988. Britain now had 1,730 reported cases of AIDS and 949 deaths.

11/7/1988. 8,500 people in the UK were known to be carrying the AIDS virus.

22/3/1988, In Australia, doctors turned off the life support system of a terminally ill female patient for the first time.

29/1/1988. Junior Health Minister (Conservative), Edwina Curry, told people they should forego holidays to pay for private health care.

13/1/1988. One in every 61 babies born in New York in December 1987 had the AIDS virus. Doctors believed up to 40% of them would develop AIDS. In the UK, there were 1,277 AIDS cases; 697 had died from the disease.

30/9/1987, At the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Susan Lazarchick had the first successful transplant of the body’s most complex joint, the knee.

29/12/1987, Prozac made its debut in the USA. Initially used to treat high blood pressure and obesity, doctors noticed it could relieve depression. Its active ingredient, fluoxetine, increases the amount of serotonin in the brain. It is knwn as a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI).

1/10/1987, 48 year old surrogate grandmother Mrs Pat Anthony gave birth to triplets for her daughter Karen Ferriera-Jorge in Johannesburg, South Africa.

7/9/1987, The world’s first conference on artificial life began, at Los Alamos National Laboratories, USA.

15/8/1987. Sextuplets, three boys and four girls, were born to Susan Halton in Liverpool’s Oxford Street Hospital.  Their combined weight was 9 ½ pounds. None survived; the last lived until 31/8/1987.

10/8/1987, One person a day was dying of AIDS in Britain.

20/3/1987, The drug AZT was launched to combat AIDS.

15/2/1987. The World Health Organisation announced that a total of 38,401 AIDS cases had been reported in 85 countries. The AIDS virus had been discovered in the USA on 23/4/1984.

17/12/1986, Mrs Davina Thompson made medical history at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, UK, when she was given a new heart, lungs, and liver.

21/11/1986, The UK Government began an AIDS awareness advertising campaign focussed on safe sex.

2/11/1986, Britain’s first artificial heart transplant operation was performed at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge.

22/9/1986, At Harefield Hospital, Middlesex, a 2 ½ month old baby became the youngest heart and lung transplant patient.

29/3/1986, The first test-tube quintuplets were born, in London.

21/2/1986, Shigechiyo Izumi, the world’s oldest man, died in Japan aged 120.

16/12/1985, 8,000 Americans had now died of AIDS.

2/10/1985. Hollywood actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS, aged 59.

26/9/1985, The British Government announced £1 million funding to stop the spread of AIDS.

25/7/1985, Film star Rock Hudson was admitted to hospital suffering from AIDS.

24/6/1985, Keith Hardcastle, Britain’s longest surviving heart transplant patient, died 6 years after his operation.

10/5/1985. The World Health Organisation announced that AIDS cases were doubling every year in the USA and Europe. Worldwide, 11,000 AIDS cases had been reported since the virus was discovered on 23/4/1984.

11/4/1985. An 18-month old boy became the first British baby to die of AIDS.

15/3/1985, In Britain, blood donors were now to be tested for AIDS.

4/1/1985, Mrs Kim Cotton, believed to be the first commercial surrogate mother in Britain, gave birth to a girl.

25/10/1984. The hepatitis virus was identified.

23/4/1984. The discovery of the AIDS virus was announced in the USA.

1983, In Australia, the first birth from a woman without ovaries, using donated eggs, was achieved.

18/11/1983, In Liverpool Janet Walton, 31, gave birth to sextuplets, all girls.

21/5/1983. The US made AIDS top health priority.

2/12/1982, At the University of Utah, 61 year old retired dentist Barney Clark became the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart. He lived for 112 days with the device.

5/8/1982, John Charnley, British orthopaedic surgeon, died aged 70.

31/12/1981. Doctors became aware of a new disease that destroyed the immune system and appeared to be common in homosexuals. This was to be known as AIDS.

28/12/1981, The first American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.

5/6/1981, The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported that five homosexual men in Los Angeles, California, had a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with weakened immune systems. These were the first recognised cases of AIDS.

8/5/1980. The World Health Organisation declared that smallpox had been eradicated.

11/9/1978. The world’s last smallpox victim died. She was a medical school photographer in Birmingham, and had caught the virus on 30/8/1979 after it escaped from a laboratory located on the floor below her workplace. The Head of Department responsible for this laboratory later committed suicide by cutting his throat.

25/7/1978. The world’s first ‘test tube’ (IVF) baby was born, in Britain. Louise Joy Brown was born by Caesarean section at Oldham General Hospital, Lancashire, to Lesley Brown. She had been conceived by combining the sperm and egg in a Petri Dish, because her mother’s Fallopian Tubes were blocked.

1977, The first successful case of in-vitro fertilisation. A couple, John and Lesley Brown had tried and failed to conceive naturally for 9 years. Scientists Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe removed an egg from Lesley’s ovaries and injected John’s sperm into the egg. Two days later the now 8-celled embryo was implanted back into Lesley’s uterus. A baby girl was successfully born on 25/7/1978. By 2017, some 5 million babies had been conceived in-vitro.

1977, The number of malaria cases in India stood at 10 million, up from 100,000 in 1965. The emergence of resistant strains of the disease was to blame.

1977, The first prototype Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine was built by Raymond Damadian. See also Atomic Power and Electricity.

23/5/1977, Scientists reported using bacteria to make insulin.

4/8/1976, First recorded cases of Legionnaires Disease, at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, killed 29 people. Scientists isolated the previously unknown bacteria that caused this disease on 18/1/1977.

11/1/1974. The first surviving sextuplets were born to Mrs Sue Rosenberg in Cape Town, South Africa.

30/7/1973, Families of thalidomide victims won £20 million damages after an 11-year court case fought on their behalf by The Sunday Times newspaper. Babies had been born with missing or malformed limbs after their pregnant mothers took the drug for morning sickness.

16/10/1972. Protesters demanded compensation from the makers of the drug Thalidomide. Venereal Disease cases amongst under 16s were up 10% on last year.

25/1/1972, In London, the National Organ Matching And Distribution Service (NOMDS) was established.

1971, The diamond-bladed scalpel was invented by the Microsurgical Instrumentation Research Association. It greatly improved eye surgery.

29/11/1971, The British Government announced a fund of £3 million for the victims of thalidomide.

1/10/1971, The first CT scan was performed, on a patiernt’s brain, at the Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London,

26/2/1971. Hammersmith Borough Council launched a lurid and aggressive campaign against the spread of venereal diseases such as syphilis.

25/7/1971. The first heart and lung transplant was performed.

1970, In Germany, the first successful nerve transplant took place.

15/7/1970. An experimental pacemaker was fitted to a 56 year old woman at the National Heart Centre in London.

23/3/1970, In the UK, the High Court awarded £370,000 damages to 18 children born with birth defects due to thalidomide, against Distillers (Biochemicals). Five children born with tiny ‘flipper’ arms, the worst-disabled, received £28,000 each.

9/1/1970, In Britain, Hong Kong Flu claimed 2,850 lives in a week.

13/11/1969, In London, a woman had quintuplets after fertility drug treatment.

13/2/1969. Scientists in Cambridge announced the first successful in-vitro fertilisation of a human being.

10/6/1968, NHS prescription charges were reintroduced. See 1/2/1965.

27/5/1968, The trial of the executives of the Chemie-Grunenthal company, responsible for the Thalidomide disaster that killed 80,000 babies and maimed 20,000 more, opened in Alsdorf, near Aachen. The trail was expected to last at least three years, but was shut down on 18/12/11970. All defendants were granted immunity from prosecution. The German Government and Grunenthal agreed a compensation scheme that many parents regarded as inadequate. Thalidomide was launched as a wonder cure for morning sickness on 1/10/1957; it was withdrawn on 27/11/1961. It was sold as Distaval in the UK, as Contergan in Germany. It emerged that no tests were done for effects on embryos; the executives claimed nobody in te 1950s realised that drugs taken by the mother could affect the foetus, which claim was untrue even then. Adults who took thalidomide as a sedative in 1959 had suffered serious nerve damage.

3/5/1968. Britain’s first heart transplant.

21/2/1968, Lord Florey, Australian-born British pathologist who made possible the large-scale production of penicillin, died.

11/1/1968. The world’s fifth heart transplant was performed in New York.

2/1/1968, Christiaan Barnard performed a second heart transplant; the recipient Philip Blaiberg survived 594 days, proving the technique was feasible.

3/12/1967. Professor Christian Barnard, born 1923, performed the world’s first heart transplant in Cape Town. The recipient, a 53-year old grocer called Waskansky, who received the heart of a 25 year old traffic casualty, died 18 days later of pneumonia. The drugs given to suppress rejection compromised Waskansky’s immune system. A second heart transplant patient (see 2/1/1968) survived much longer.

4/9/1965. Albert Schweitzer, French medical missionary, died aged 90 in Lambarene, Gabon, in the village where he had opened his hospital for natives in 1913.  He was aged 90, and won the Nobel Prize in 1952.

1/2/1965, In the UK, NHS prescription charges were removed. They were re-introduced on 10/6/1968, see Price; 16/1/1968.

24/4/1964, Gerhard Domagk, German pathologist (born 30/10/1895 in Brandenburg) died in Burgberg.

20/9/1963, The first pre-natal blood transfusion was performed at the National Women’s hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, by Professor George Green, on a child born to Mrs E McLeod.

1963, The first artificial heart was patented.

18/4/1963, The first human nerve transplant was carried out by Dr James Campbell at New York University Medical Centre.

10/12/1962, Crick and Watson received the Nobel prize for their work on DNA.

13/11/1962. UK doctors estimated that 40,000 Britons were taking pep pills.

14/9/1962, Distillers Company agreed to pay £14 million to the victims of thalidomide.

21/1/1962 . Smallpox was also a threat as an epidemic hit Britain and other countries insisted visitors from the UK were vaccinated.

1961, The El Tor outbreak of cholera started in Indonesia. Assisted by air travel, it reached Taiwan by 1963, and by 1964 was present in Taiwan, Hong Kong, India and Egypt. By 1965 it was found in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and by1970 had reached Libya, Lebanon and Astrakhan,

6/6/1961, Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychologist and associate of Freud, died aged 85.

6/7/1960. Aneurin Bevan, founder of the National Health Service in 1948, Minister of Health 1945-51, died.  He was born on 15/11/1897.

7/6/1960, The first NHS hearing aids were issued.

31/12/1958, There were fears that a drug prescribed for morning sickness, thalidomide, might be causing birth defects.

31/10/1958. Ake Senning, Swedish doctor, in Stockholm implanted the first internal heart pacemaker.

11/3/1957, The World Health Information published the first indications that radiation may have genetic effects.

17/11/1955. Anglesey became the first authority in Britain to introduce fluoride into the water supply.

12/4/1955, The Salk polio vaccine was pronounced safe.

11/3/1955, Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin in 1928 and Nobel prize-winner in 1945, died.

23/2/1954, In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, the first mass inoculation of children against polio began, using the Salk vaccine.

1953, The heart by-pass machine made open heart surgery possible.

1953, The first birth using a human egg that had been fertilised using previously-frozen sperm.

11/11/1953. The polio virus was identified.

17/9/1953, The first successful separation of Siamese Twins took place, at the Ochnser Foundation Hospital in New Orleans.

26/3/1953. The Salk vaccine proved effective against polio.

25/4/1953, James Watson and Francis Crick described the double-helix structure of DNA in Nature magazine.

28/2/1953. Watson and Crick discovered DNA.

1952, Virginia Apgar developed the Apgar Score to assess the viability of a newborn infant, in order to combat high neonatal mortality rates. Still used today, each infant is scored 0, 1 or 2 on 5 parameters; heart rate, breathing, reflexes, uscle tone and colour. The result is a score out of ten indicating any need for medical intervention.

1/12/1952, George Jorgensen Jr of the USA became the first person to have gender reassignment surgery, becoming Christine Jorgensen.

4/10/1952. The first external pacemaker was developed by Dr Paul Zoll of the Harvard Medical School, and was fitted to David Schwartz. The first internal pacemaker was not developed until 1958.

8/3/1952. The first artificial heart was used on a 41-year old man. It kept him alive at the Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, for 80 minutes.

23/4/1951. The Labour Health Minister Nye Bevan and two other ministers resign over the introduction of charges for NHS glasses and false teeth. The charges were imposed to pay for defence costs.

17/6/1950. In the US, the first kidney transplant took place. The patient, 44 year old Ruth Tucker, survived for 5 years but then died when the transplanted kidney failed.

1/4/1950, Charles R Drew (born 3/6/1904 in Washington DC) was killed in a car accident in Burlington, North Carolina. He discovered that blood plasma, unlike whole blood, could be stored for long periods without spoiling; this facilitated the blood transfusion system. For this, Drew became the first Black American man in the US to be awarded a Doctor of Science Degree.

6/10/1949, Aneurin Bevan gave some figures for the demand on Britain’s new NHS since its inception on 5/7/1948. 187,000,000 prescriptions had been dispensed at a cost of 2s 9d (14p) each; 5,250,000 pairs of glasses had been given out, with another 3,000,000 on order; 8,500,000 dental patients had been treated. The Government Actuary, Sir George Epps, had estimated that the cost of the NHS in its first year would be £170 million; the actual figure turned out to be £242 million. Annual costs were expected to fall as the population grew fitter; in fact annual costs rose to £384 million in 1952/3.

5/10/1949, Major Greenwood (born 9/8/1880) English epidemiologist and medical statistician, died.

5/7/1948. The National Health Service was established in the UK. Introduced under a Labour government, it provided free medical treatment, and free prescriptions for glasses, teeth, and wigs. In its first year the NHS cared for 47.5 million patients, provided 5.25 million pairs of glasses, 7,000 artificial eyes and 5,000 wigs. Doctors wrote 187 million NHS prescriptions, and by 1950, 95% of UK citizens were using the NHS.

7/6/1948, Over half of UK doctors agreed to join the NHS.

18/2/1948. In a poll by the British Medical Association, 86% of doctors voted against joining the NHS.

7/4/1948. The World Health Organisation was set up with its headquarters in Geneva. Its aim was to attain the highest possible level of health for all peoples.

27/1/1948, UK medical consultants threatened to boycott the new National Health Service.

1947, It was observed that folic acid (one of the B vitamins) could increase the number of abnormal white cells in children with acute leukemia. If these children were given a drug that reduced the effects of folic acid, the abnormal cells decreased. The idea that drugs could counteract cancer, or chemotherapy, was developed from this finding..

3/4/1947. In the UK, the private medical company BUPA was founded.

21/3/1946. Aneurin Bevan announced Labour Government plans for a National Health Service.to become operational in 1948. The cost per year was expected to be around £152 million (£5,000 million in 2015 prices; actual 2015 NHS spending is more like £115,000 million).

22/2/1946, Dr Selman Abrahams announced the discovery of streptomycin, an antibiotic for treating tuberculosis.

1945, Fluorine began to be added to the water supply in the US.

1944, In Britain the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommended that 70% of births should take place in hospitals. Previously most births took place at the mother’s home, with the assistance of a midwife. The cost of a hospital birth, before the inception of the NHS, was 6 guineas,but for those women who could afford it, a hospital birth was a welcome respite from rationing, laundry and housekeeping duties.

17/2/1944, In the UK, the White Paper on the National Health Service was published.

1943, The first dialysis machine for patients with kidney failure was invented.

31/12/1943, Penicillin was finally in common usage in hospitals, its development having been delayed by the War. Its first successful use had been on 13/2/1941. Another ‘wonder drug’, sulphonamide, was also useful against infections.

15/12/1942, The British Government began a campaign against venereal disease, which had increased markedly since the war began.

3/5/1941, The first successful treatment by penicillin. A patient was treated for a 4 inch carbuncle, which was cleared and the patient was discharged on 15/5/1941.

21/2/1941, Sir Frederick Banting, Canadian scientist who along with Charles Best discovered insulin in 1921, was killed in an air crash.

13/2/1941, The ‘miracle drug’ penicillin was used on a human for the first time; a policeman from Oxford, UK. However he died on 15/3/1941 because not enough was available. It then took some 2,000 litres of mould culture fluid to produce enough penicillin for a single case of infection. However Florey subsequently discovered another species of mould that produced 1,000 times as much penicillin. See 31/12/1943.

24/8/1940, The Lancet reported on the first purification of penicillin by professors Howard Florey and Ernest Chain.

23/9/1939. Sigmund Freud, Austrian psychiatrist, born 6/5/1856, died in Hampstead aged 83.  He had moved to London in 1938 following Hitler’s annexation of Austria.

6/1/1938. Sigmund Freud arrived in London, fleeing Nazi persecution.

1937,The first artificial heart was implanted in a dog.

1937, The Rhesus blood factor was discovered by Karl Landsteiner and Alexander S Wiener.

15/3/1937. Bernard Faustus set up America’s first blood bank at Cook County Hospital, Chicago.

1930, Karl Landsteiner won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of the blood groups, making transfusions more successful.

9/1/1929, Fleming treated his assistant Stuart Craddock for an infection by washing it out with a penicillin solution; this cleared the infection.

1928, Dorothy Eustis, from the US, set up a guide dog traini g centre at Vervey, Switzerland, after habing heard of how a pet Alsatian dog looked after its owner who had been blinded as a soldier in World War One. Following this the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was set up in Britain in 1934.

26/11/1928, The first twins to be born by Caesarean section in Britain were delivered in Manchester.

12/10/1928. The first iron lung was used at the Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts.

15/9/1928. Alexander Fleming reported the discovery of penicillin.

6/4/1928, In Italy, handshaking was banned as it was deemed unhygienic.

1927, The ‘Iron Lung’, or Drinker Respirator, was invented by Harvard Professor Philip Drinker. It was intended for child victims of respiratory faulire due to acute poliomyelitis.

12/1/1926. In Paris, the Pasteur Institute announced the discovery of an anti-tetanus vaccine.

24/7/1925. Insulin (patented 12/6/1922) was first used to successfully treat a patient, 6 year old Patricia Cheeseman, at Guy’s Hospital London.

15/4/1925, Sir James Barrie donated the copyright of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London.

14/6/1924, James Black, Scottish pharmacologist, was born (died 2010).

10/2/1923. William Konrad Von Roentgen, German physicist who discovered X rays in 1895, died.

12/6/1922, Insulin, the treatment for diabetes, was patented by Frederick Banting. See 27/7/1921 and 24/7/1925.

8/11/1922, Dr Christian Barnard, South African surgeon who pioneered heart transplants, was born in Beaufort West, Cape Province.

11/1/1922, Leonard Thompson, aged 14, became the first patient to be treated with insulin for his diabetes, at Toronto General. Hospital. He lived for another 13 years before dying of pneumonia at age 27.

27/7/1921. Insulin was isolated by Dr Frederick Banting at the University of Toronto medical School, helped by his assistant Charles Best, and tested on a de-pancreatised dog the same day. It was first used successfully on a human on 11/1/1922.

1920, The Spanish Flu pandemic had killed 50 - 100 million people. In the developed world, mortality was about 2%; in Britain, 250,000 died, mostly aged between 20 and 40. However in India, where 18.5 million died, it was 6%, and in Egypr, where 138,000 died, mortality wsas 10%. Death rates tended to be higher in populations which had been less exposed to the flu virus previously.

1919, In the UK, the Ministry of Health was established by Act of Parliament.

29/12/1919, Sir William Osler, medical teacher, died in Oxford, England.

26/10/1918. In London alone, in the past week, Spanish flu claimed 2,225 lives.

21/10/1918. The Spanish Flu epidemic began in Britain. 150,000 died of this disease in the last quarter of 1918. It killed twice as many as died in World War One.

22/2/1918. The world’s tallest man, Robert Wadlow, was born, weighing 8 ½ lbs. He grew to 8 foot 11 ½ inches in height and weighed 31 stone 5 lbs, when he died in 1940.


31/3/1917, Emil von Behring, immunologist (born 15/3/1854 in Hansdorf, Germany), died in Marburg, Germany.

1916, US psychologist Lewis M Terman invented the term IQ for Intelligence Quotient; plastic surgery advanced as a result of war inuries; F W Mott developed a theory of shell-shock.

3/11/1916, There was concern about rising rates of sexually-transmitted diseases in Britain, with 50,000 cases reported amongst servicemen in 1916.

8/6/1916, Professor Sir Francis Crick, who along with J D Watson discovered DNA, was born.

20/8/1915, Paul Erlich, bacteriologist, dies of a stroke in Bad Homburg, Germany. Born in Strehlen, Silesia (now Poland) on 14/3/1854, he laid the foundations for the use of chemotherapy in treating disease. In 1909 he developed the first compound designed specifically to cure a disease; Salvarsan, for syphilis.

28/10/1914. Jonas Salk, US bacteriologist  who discovered the anti-poliomyelitis vaccine, was born in New York City, to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents.

27/3/1914. The first successful blood transfusion took place, in a hospital in Brussels.

8/1/1914, Doctors at the Middlesex Hospital successfully treated cancer with radium.

15/8/1913, Dr. Albert Schweitzer performed major surgery for the first time at the site of what would become the Albert Schweitzer Hospital at Lambaréné in Gabon, at that time a part of French Equatorial Africa.

1912, Casimir Funck coined the term ‘vitamin(e)’.

10/2/1912. Charles Lister. Lord Joseph Lister, surgeon and discoverer of antiseptics, died aged 84 at Walmer, Kent.

1911, Bleuler in Switzerland coined the term ‘schizophrenia’.

29/8/1911, John Charnley, British surgeon, was born (died 1982)

17/1/1911, Sir Francis Galton, English scientist and writer on eugenics, died aged 88.

17/9/1910, A London doctor stated that if lunacy kept increasing at the current rate, the sane would be outnumbered by the insane within 40 years.

13/8/1910. Florence Nightingale, born 12/5/1820, died in London aged 90.

27/5/1910, Robert Koch, German bacteriologist and Nobel Prize Winner who discovered the tuberculosis bacillus, died.

4/5/1910. Lloyd George introduced a National Health Insurance Bill.

1909, Paul Ehrlich, in Germany, prepared Salvarsan as a cure for syphilis; W Johannsen in The Netehrlands introduced the term ‘gene’; P T Levene discovered RNA and DNA

1908, Dr Frederick McKay, a dentist in Colorado, USA, noticed that some of hist patient’s teeth had become mottled, and that these teeth were not so prone to decay as un-mottled teeth. Guessing that something in the drinking water was causing this, he discovered, after studying other regions in the US, that fluorine in the water was the cause. This gave rise to the concept of fluoridating the water, enough to arrest decay without causing mottling.

16/3/1908. Florence Nightingale, aged 87, was awarded the Freedom of the City of London. Born in 1820 to a middle class family in Derbyshire, she became interested in hygienic care for the sick after visiting a German religious hospital in 1850 which specialised in hygiene and care. In 1854 she was disturbed by terrible reports of the conditions in military hospitals there. She took 37 nurses and arrived at the hospital at Scutari, arriving on 4/11/1854. The military did not at first take her seriously, but her determination won through and she reduced the hospital’s death rate from 42% to just 2%. After the Crimean War she trained nurses in London and worked to improve the care for the sick.

1907, Bubonic Plague killed 1.3 million people in India.

1907, C Pirquet developed a method of diagnoising tuberculosis; C Ross Harrison developed a tissue culture technique; Ivan Pavlov in Russia published Conditioned Reflexes.

29/11/1907. Florence Nightingale, aged 87, the ‘Lady with the Lamp’, was presented with the Order of Merit by Edward VII for her work during the Crimean War, see 4/11/1854.

1906, The term ‘allergy’ was coined by Austrian paediatrician Clemens von Parquet.

24/8/1906, Kidney transplants were carried out on dogs, at a medical conference in Toronto, Canada.

8/4/1906, D Auguste, the first recorded Alzheimer's victim, died (born 1850)

1/1/1906, In Britain the Lunacy Commission reported that on this date 121,979 persons were certified as insane.

1905, Zirm, in Austria, performed the first cornea transplant.

30/10/1905. Aspirin went on sale in the UK for the first time.

17/2/1905, A typhus outbreak occurred in London’s East End.

13/10/1904, Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud published his Interpretation of Dreams.

31/7/1903, Alexander Graham Bell’s proposition that radium could be used to treat cancer appeared in the US journal, Science.

14/4/1903, In New York, the typhus vaccine was discovered by Dr Harry Plotz.

10/12/1902. Major Ronald Ross of the British army won the Nobel Prize for medicine because of his work relating malaria to mosquitoes.

29/8/1902, A cholera epidemic in Egypt killed over 9,000.

19/2/1902. France made smallpox vaccinations compulsory.

31/1/1902, The number of smallpox victims in London rose to 2,273.

1/11/1901. In Chicago, Dr J E Gilman announced an X-Ray treatment for breast cancer.

1900, The age of menarche in Western girls was down to 14, from 17 in the late 1700s. By 2000 it was down to 13, and was around 12.5 by 2017.

14/11/1900, Dr Karl Landsteiner of the Pathological and Anatomical Institute of Vienna announced the discovery of the three major blood groups.

16/10/1900, Sir Henry Acland, English physician (born 23/8/1815) died.

3/9/1900, An outbreak of Bubonic Plague in Glasgow.

17/2/1900, The influenza epidemic in Britain ended.

9/1/1900, The influenza epidemic in London was killing 50 people a day.

6/3/1899, The painkiller Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) was patented by Felix Hoffman. The active ingredient is derived from willow.

27/1/1899, Charles Best, Canadian co-discoverer of insulin for treating diabetes, was born in West Pembroke, Maine.

24/9/1898, Sir Howard Florey, British pathologist and joint discoverer of penicillin with Sir Ernest Chain, was born in Adelaide, Australia.

10/10/1897, Felix Hoffman, German chemist, invented the painkiller aspirin.

20/8/1897, Sir Ronald Ross discovered that malaria was spread by mosquitoes.

9/9/1896. Surgery was performed on the heart for the first time, at Frankfurt City Hospital, Germany. The 22 year old patient had been stabbed in the heart during a pub brawl and stitches were inserted in the organ.

5/1/1896. The German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen gave the first demonstration of X rays.

1895, Heroin was marketed by Bayer Pharmaceuticals as a cough medicine for children.

8/11/1895. Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X rays, during an experiment at the University of Wurtzburg. He made the first radiograph, or X-ray, of his wife’s hand, on 22/12/1895. In 1896 Emil Grubbe, having noticed the damage that X-ray exposure did to his own skin, experimented with applying rays to cancerous tissie; he treated a woman with breast cancer, but did not publicise the results until several years later.

28/9/1895. The French chemist Louis Pasteur died (see 6/7/1885). He had been born in Dole, France, on 27/12/1822.

1894, The first British sanatorium for the open-air treatment of tuberculosis opened in Edinburgh. Others soon followed in Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Frimley (Surrey). The notion that open clean air could assist in the treatment of tuberculosis had been popular since the late 1800s; the wealthy would take the train to the Alps of the south of France. Wealthy philanthropists funded the British sanatoria, although because tuberculosis was considered a disease of the poor, it attracted less funding than cancer.

1893, A Japanese scientist, Shibasaburo Kitasako, proved that The Plague was a bacterial disease carried by infected rat feas.

14/11/1891, Sir Frederick Banting, Canadian co-discoverer of insulin with McLeod and Best in 1922, was born in Alliston, Ontario.

30/11/1889, Edgar Adrian, English physiologist, was born. He studied the neurons of the nervous system.

22/7/1888, Selman Abraham Waksman, Russian microbiologist whose search for antimicrobial substances in soil led to the discovery of actinomycin and streptomycin, was born.

29/6/1888, The first appendectomy was carried out in the UK, at the London Hospital by Professor Frederick Treves.

17/7/1887, Dorothy Lynde Dix, pioneer in the humane treatment of the mentally disabled in the US (born 4/4/1802 in Hampden, Maine), died in Trenton, New Jersey.

27/4/1887, The first appendix operation, for removing an infected appendix, was carried out by George Thomas Morton on a 26-year-old man with acute appendicitis, in Philadelphia, USA.

6/7/1885. Louis Pasteur, 63, administered his first successful treatment of rabies with anti rabies vaccine made from a weakened rabies virus.

25/11/1884, English surgeon Rickman Godlee undertook the first operation to remove a brain tumour.

6/8/1881. Alexander Fleming, the Scottish bacteriologist who discovered penicillin, was born in Scotland. Fleming specialised in bacteriology at St Mary’s Hospital, London. The enormous death toll amongst soldiers suffering from infected wounds left Fleming seeking a chemical that could fight the infection. Whilst clearing up Petri dishes in which he had been growing bacteria, Fleming stumbled on a mouldy dish in which the bacteria had been killed. However it was not until the Second World War that chemists really took an interest in the development of penicillin. Fleming was knighted in 1944 and awarded the Nobel Prize in 1945.

5/5/1881, Louis Pasteur tested his inoculation against anthrax on an ox, cows and sheep.

1880, Louis Pasteur accidentally discovered the technique for inoculation, by injection of a weakened pathogen. He went on holiday, leaving a solution of chicken cholera bacteria, which he did not realise would grow weaker over time. On return he injected chickens with these bacteria; to his surprise they became ill but survived, and then were able to resist full strength bacteria also.

22/7/1878, The UK Parliament prohibited medically-untrained people from calling themselves ‘dentists’.

24/6/1877, The St John’s Ambulance brigade was formed, as the Ambulance Association, by the Red Cross.

26/7/1875, Carl Jung, Swiss psychoanalyst, was born in Kesswil.

26/1/1875, The first battery electric powered dental drill was used. Mains-powered dental drills were not used until 1908.

1874, Armauer Hansen, a Norwegian doctor, discovered the bacteria which causes leprosy. However drug s to treat the disease were only developed in the 1940s.

2/3/1874, Neil Arnott, Scottish physician (born 15/5/1788) died.

17/1/1874. The original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, died within three hours of each other, aged 62. Chang and Eng meant Left and Right in Thailand, where they were born

7/2/1870, Birth of Alfred Adler, the psychoanalyst who introduced the concept of the inferiority complex.

17/6/1867. Joseph Lister performed a mastectomy on his sister Isabella, using carbolic acid as an antiseptic. It was the first operation under antiseptic conditions.

21/2/1866, August von Wasserman, German bacteriologist who invented a test for syphilis, was born.

12/8/1865, British surgeon Joseph Lister, 38, operating at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, pioneered the use of carbolic acid as a disinfectant, aiming to reduce the 50% mortality rate amongst amputees.

24/6/1860, The training of nurses in Britain started at St Thomas Hospital, London.

15/6/1860. Florence Nightingale started her School for Nurses at St Thomas’s Hospital, London.

23/11/1858, The General Medical Council held its first meeting in London.

2/8/1858, Under the Medical Act, UK doctors were now required to be registered.

6/5/1856, Sigmund Freud, Austrian pioneer of psychoanalysis, was born in Freiburg, Moravia.

4/11/1854. Florence Nightingale arrived at Scutari (Crimean War).

15/3/1854, Emil von Behring, bacteriologist who won the Nobel Prize in 1901 for his work on immunisation aganist diphtheria, was born.

14/3/1854, Paul Erlich, bacteriologist, was born in Strehlen, Silesia (now Poland); died 20/8/1915.

7/4/1853, Queen Victoria used chloroform to help her through the birth of her seventh child, Prince Leopold. This established chloroform as the favoured anaesthetic in Britain.

2/6/1850, Jesse Boot, British pharmacist, was born in Nottingham.

26/9/1849, Ivan Pavlov, son of a village priest, was born this day near Ryazan, Russia. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1904 for his discovery of conditioned reflexes.

12/7/1849, Sir William Osler, medical teacher, was born in Ontario, Canada,

9/11/1847, Obstetrician Sir James Simpson, Professor of Midwifery at the University of Edinburgh demonstrated a new anaesthetic, trichloromethane, better known as chloroform. Claimed to be three times as effective as ether, it was to be of great use during difficult childbirths; however Scottish Calvinists opposed the use of any anaesthetic during childbirth.

7/5/1847, The American Medical Association was founded.

21/12/1846. Anaesthetic was used in a British hospital for the first time (see 16/10/1846).It was used by surgeon Robert Liston during a leg amputation at University College Hospital, London.

19/12/1846, The first dental extraction under anaesthetic was performed in Britain.

16/10/1846. Anaesthetic was used successfully for the first time in a major operation, at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dentist William Morton Warren used diethyl ether before removing a tumour from a man’s jaw.

26/3/1845. The sticking plaster was patented.

11/12/1844, Dr John M Riggs, of Hartford Connecticut, successfully extracted a tooth painlessly from Dr Horace Wells using nitrous oxide gas. He performed 40 more such operations, but abandoned them after a patient nearly died from an overdose of the gas; Dr Riggs was unaware that the nitrous oxide should be mixed with oxygen.

11/12/1843, Robert Koch, German bacteriologist, was born in Klausthal.

21/6/1843. The Royal College of Surgeons was formed from the original Barber –Surgeon Company.

2/4/1843. The originator of homeopathic medicine, Samuel Hanneman, died in Paris aged 88. He believed that diseases could be cured by drugs producing similar symptoms, only in much smaller doses than normal; the ‘law of similars’.

30/3/1842. The first anaesthetic, ether, was used in an operation, in Jefferson, Georgia, USA. The surgeon was Dr Crawford Long. He removed a cyst from the neck of a Mr James Venables. The bill for the anaesthesia was US$ 2.25. Dr Long performed 9 successful operations with ether, including the amputation of a boy’s finger, but was accused of sorcery by the older citizens of Jefferson and threatened with lynching if he continued.

12/2/1841, Sir Astley Cooper, English surgeon, died in London (born 23/8/1768 in Norfolk).

1840, Swiss chemist Charles J Choss demonstrated the need for calcium for proper bone development.

1838, Jons Jakob Berzelius pioneered the understanding of haemoglobin in the blood, realising the role of iron in oxygen transportation in the body.

1837, Leeches were heavily used in medicine. At Bartholomews, London, 96,300 leeches were used during 1837, up from 52,000 in 1822 and 24,700 in 1821. Heavy bleeding was used to induce unconsciousness before an operation such as an amputation, in the absence of anaesthetics.

1836, The first nurses training school in the world was opened in Kaiserwerth, Germany by Pastor Theodore Fiedner and his wife. The Quaker philanthropist Elizabeth Fry visited there and was so impressed she opened the firest nurses training school ln England in London in 1840. Florence Nightingale was trained at the school in Kaiserwerth.

31/12/1833, During the year 1833, doctors in France imported 41.5 million leeches, actually making it an endangered species.

13/2/1832. Asiatic Cholera appeared for the first time in London.

21/6/1831, King William IV of England, on opening the UK Parliament, announced the arrival of a virulent strain of cholera in Europe. Starting in the Ganges area of India in 1826, cholera had spread through Iran and Turkey into south east Europe. It first hit the UK at Sunderland on 19/10/1831. Thereafter it spread rapidly in the slums of the new industrial cities, killing 3,000 in Glasgow, 700 in Leeds, 200 in York, 1,500 in Liverpool, 900 in Manchester and 6,800 in London. Britain was subsequently hit by a further cholera outbreak in 1848/9 (450 deaths in Edinburgh, 3,800 in Glasgow, 7,000 across the whole of Scotland). Cholera came again in 1853/4, starting from Tyneside, and in 1854 in London. This outbreak killed 30,000 across the UK; 10,738 in London alone. The fourth and final outbreak of cholera in Britain was in 1866, starting from Southampton; total Uk fatalities amounted to 18,000.

20/4/1831, John Abernethy, British surgeon (born 3/4/1764 in London) died in Enfield.

24/12/1828. The trial of bodysnatcher William Burke began in Edinburgh, see 31/10/1828. The other bodysnatcher, William Hare, had turned King’s Evidence and was not brought to trial. Sentenced to death, Burke was hanged on 28/1/1829 in front of a large crowd.

31/10/1828, Edinburgh bodysnatchers Burke and Hare claimed their last victim, a beggar woman named Docherty.

1827, William Herschel devised an early contact lens, a glass capsule filled with animal jelly.

5/4/1827. Joseph Lister was born in London. He was a surgeon, and pioneered the use of antiseptics.

13/8/1826, Rene Lannec, French doctor who invented and named the stethoscope in 1819, died.

1823, The British medical journal, The Lancet, was first published.

26/1/1823, Edward Jenner, pioneer of vaccination, died in Berkeley, Gloucestershire..

27/12/1822, Louis Pasteur was born in Dole, France.

12/5/1820. Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy; she was named after the city. She had a privileged education but shocked her family by turning down several marriage proposals to pursue a career in nursing. In 1854 she nursed soldiers in the Crimean War and resolved to improve the appalling medical conditions there.

24/11/1818, David Agnew, US surgeon (died 22/3/1892) was born.

25/9/1818, The first blood transfusion using human blood, as opposed to animal blood, took place in London, at Guys Hospital.

23/8/1815, Sir Henry Acland, English physician, was born (died16/10/1900).

23/10/1814, At the Duke of York Hospital, Chelsea, surgeon Joseph Constantine performed the first ‘nose job’.  Using a flap of skin from the patient’s forehead (a technique used in India in 800 BC) he reconstructed the nose of a soldier disfigured by toxic mercury treatment.

15/3/1813, Dr John Snow, pioneer bacteriologist, was born.

11/5/1811. The original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, were born of Chinese parents in Maklong, Siam. They were joined at the chest.

9/3/1801, Johann Ackermann, German physician (born 17/2/1756) died.

21/1/1799. Edward Jenner introduced the smallpox vaccination. In the 18th century, smallpox took over from the bubonic plague as the major killer disease. Edward Jenner worked as a doctor in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. By observing local milkmaids, Jenner tested the generally held belief that cowpox sufferers were immune to smallpox. In 1796 he experimented by scraping pus from a cowpox sore on the arm of a milkmaid and inserting it into two cuts on the arm of a young boy. On 1/7/1796 he did the same with pus from a smallpox sore. The boy caught cowpox but not smallpox. After doing this to 23 other people, Jenner called this method ‘vaccination’, meaning ‘from a cow’. Jenner published his findings in 1798 and despite scepticism from doctors, vaccination became widely accepted. Even members of the Royal Family were vaccinated. Vaccination became free for all infants in 1840 and compulsory in Britain in 1853. In 1980 the World Health Organisation declared smallpox had been eradicated throughout the world.

14/5/1796. Dr Edward Jenner, born 17/5/1749, from Berkeley, Gloucestershire, carried out his first human vaccination. He infected an eight year old, James Phipps, with cowpox, or ‘vaccinia’ disease, having once heard a dairymaid claim that she would never catch smallpox because she had been infected by cowpox. Then on July 1st he deliberately exposed the boy to smallpox; he proved resistant to the disease.

27/10/1794, Birth of Robert Lister, Scottish doctor who performed the first operation using anaesthetic.

16/2/1781, Rene Laennec, French doctor who invented and named the stethoscope, was born in Quimper, Brittany.

11/4/1775, Birth of James Parkinson, the physician who identified Parkinson’s Disease.

3/4/1764, John Abernethy, British surgeon, was born in London (died 20/4/1831 in Enfield).

1761, Morgagni published an anatomy textbook based on observations from over 600 dead bodies in autopsies.

17/5/1749, Edward Jenner, pioneer of vaccination, was born at Berkeley vicarage, Gloucestershire.

31/1/1747, The first venereal disease clinic opened at London Lock Hospital.

1741, William Smellie became the first obstetrician to make a scientific study of childbirth. From 1741

Smellie gave midwives and medical students in London unprecedented practical lectures on childbirth. He achieved this by offering his services to poor women on condition that his students could attend the birth.

9/8/1721. Prisoners in Newgate Gaol were offered a pardon if they agreed to be inoculated to test Dr Charles Maitland’s theories on the subject. Seven men volunteered, and all survived to live in freedom.

18/11/1686, King Louis XIV of France underwent a successful operation for haemorrhoids. The surgeon, Charles Francois, had specially-designed tools for the operation, and had practised on dozens of peasants and prisoners, some of whom died.

1678, The excretory ducts of the human kidneys (Bellini’s Diucts) were discovered by the Italian anatomist Lorenzo Bellini, 35; Bellini had taught medicine at Pisa since 1664. Bellini also discovered the action of nerves on muscles.

1675, Dutch scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek, aged 43, gave the first accurate description of red blood cells. He pioneered the development of the microscope. See also Technology and Innovation.

11/11/1675, Death of Thomas Willis, physician to King Charles II and to the Duke of York. He was the first to notice an increase in what we now know as diabetes amongst his more affluent clients – he called it ‘the pissing evil’. He also noted the very sweet nature of this urine. The wealthy in England were raising their consumption of sugar, now being imported from the Caribbean, both in desserts and in tea.

12/6/1667. The first blood transfusion was made at Montpellier University. A 15 year old boy was given 9 oz. of blood from a lamb – surprisingly he recovered from this, and the fever he had been suffering. It was likely that blood clotting, of the sheep’s blood, had prevented much from actually entering the boy’s own bloodstream.

29/4/1667, John Arbuthnot, British physician, was born (died 27/2/1735).

2/9/1666. The Great Fire of London helped end the Great Plague.

28/9/1665. London was in the grip of The Plague; 7,000 died in the last week alone. In July 1665, deaths averaged 200 a week. People were fleeing the city; graveyards were full, and corpses were thrown into Plague Pits.

7/6/1665, The Plague was first reported in London. It was a very hot day. 70,000 people would die of the Plague by October. Plague forced Parliament to meet in Oxford.

1658, Dutch naturalist Jan Swammerdam gave the first description of red blood cells.

3/6/1657, William Harvey, anatomist and physician, died near Saffron Walden, Essex. He discovered and demonstrated the circulation of the blood.

24/10/1632, Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, naturalist, was born. Inventor of the microscope, he was the first person to see bacteria.

1628, William Harvey showed that blood circulated in the bodies of animals. Until then it had been assumed that arterial and venous blood, different in colour, were separate and had different finctions. Some thought that arterial bllod carried some sort of energy from the air to the muscles, and venous blood carried food from the liver. By dissection and logical arguent, in his work Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus ('The Anatomical Function of the Movement of the Heart and the Blood in Animals'), Harvey showed that there was just one blood system, pumped around by the heart. However until oxygen was discovered there was no known reason for the blood to circulate, and until capillaries were discovered there was no known mechanism for this circulation between arteries and veins.

21/5/1618, Death of Italian physician Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente, who discovered one-way valves in veins.

20/12/1590, Ambroise Pare, known as the father of modern surgery, died in Paris.

1/4/1578, William Harvey, British anatomist who discovered the circulation of the blood, was born at Folkestone.

1546, The first Regius Professor of Medicine was appointed at Cambridge.

1543, At Basel, Switzerland, Vesalius published his great work - De humani corporis fabrica (The Structure of the Human Body)

1540, The United Barber-Surgeon’s Company was established in Britain.

20/10/1524, Thomas Linacre, physician to King Henry VII and VIII and founder of the Royal College of Physicians in 1518, died.

1508, Leonardo da Vinci drew plans of an early contact lens; a glass lens filled with water, to magnify vision.

1502, Syphilis first appeared in China, brought to the port of Canton by Euroepan traders.

24/8/1349, The Black Death broke out in Elbing (Poland).

31/5/1349, The mortality rate from the Black Death in London finally began to ease.

29/9/1348, The Black Death reached London.

24/6/1348, The Black Death outbreak hit Melcombe Regis (Weymouth, Dorset in England).

25/12/1347, First cases of the plague recorded in the city of Split in Croatia.

1/11/1347, Black Death spreads to Aix-en-Provence in France.

1/9/1347, The Black Death reached the French city of Marseilles.

1347, 1348. The Black Death arrived in Europe. It appeared in the Crimea (probably originating in China in 1333) and spread west to the Mediterranean. It reached Greece in September 1347, and also appeared in Sicily and southern Italy. By January 1348 Pisa, Venice, Avignon, and Arles were stricken, and by April 1348 Toulouse, Spain, and Lyons had the disease. June 1348 saw the Black Death arrive in England, and by 1349 Germany and Brittany were suffering.

1230, Leprosy was brought into Europe by the Crusaders.

1167, The Council of Tours forbade the clergy from practising surgery, so this skill was taken over by the barber-surgeons.

18/6/1037, Persian philosopher and physician Avicenna died. His writings were valued sources for European doctors.

937, King Athelstan founded St Peters Hospital at York.

594, The Plague ended in Europe. It had killed half the population.

542, The Plague hit Constantinople, imported by rats from Egypt. In 547 it reached Britain.

219, Death of the Chinese physician Zhang (born 152), who compiled a large compendium of all the medical knowledge in China.

104, First mention of dentures, by the Roman poet Martial, who died in this year.

290 BCE, Eristratus investigated the human nervous system.

265 BCE, Rome learnt of Greek medical techniques, from Greek prisoners of war.

370 BCE. Death of the great physician Hippocrates, born ca. 460 BC.

430 – 432 BCE, The Plague in Athens.

1700 BCE, The Ebers Egyptian papyrus (discovered in 1872 AD) records the incidence of tooth decay and ophthalmic problems. At the same time, smallpox was recorded in China,

2595 BCE, The first Chinese medical text, Nei Ching, was published. It detailed the use of a range iof medicines, including camphor, opium, and sodium sulphate.

2700 BCE, Acupuncture came into use in China.

2980 BCE, The Egyptian physicial Imhotep began to research plant cures for ailments as well as religious remedies.


Appendix 1 – Hospitals

1959, In Swindon the first part of the new Princess Margaret Hospital was opened.

1957, The reconstruction of Guy’s Hospital, London began, at a cost of well over £2,000,000.

1887, The London Skin Hospital was founded.

1874, The Central London Hospital for Throat, Nose and Ear was founded.

1868, The East End Hospital for Children was founded.

1867, Queen’s Hospital for Children was founded.

1866, The Belgrave Hospital for Children and the Grosvenor Hospital for Children were founded.

1863, The Hospital for Diseases of the Throat, London, was founded.

1861, The National Dental Hospital was founded.

1860, St Peter’s Hospital for Stone, London, was founded.

1859, The National Hospital for Paralysis and Epilepsy was founded.

1858, The Royal Dental Hospital was founded.

1857, The National Hospital for Diseases of the Heart, the Royal Eye Hospital and the Liverpool Infirmary for Children were founded.

1855, The Poplar Hosiptal for Accidents was founded.

1854, The Royal Hospital for Incurables, Putney, was founded,

14/2/1852. London’s famous children’s hospital, in Great Ormond Street, opened. The first patient admitted was Eliza Armstrong.

1851, The Free Cancer Hospital, Fulham, was founded.

1850, The London Smallpox Hospital was founded.

1849, The London Homeopathic Hospital was founded.

1848, The Victoria Park Hospital for Diseases of the Heart and Lungs was founded.

1847, The Samaritan Free Hospital for Women was founded.

1840, Kensington Children’s Hospital was founded.

1838, The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, London, and the Metropolitan Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital were founded.

1835, St Marks Hospital for Cancer was founded.

1829, The Hospital for Children, Manchester was founded.

1816, The Royal Ear Hospital, the Royal Westminister Ophthalmic Hospital and the Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women were founded.

1814, The Royal Hospital for Diseases of the Chest was founded.

1806, Exeter Eye Hospital was founded.

1805, Moorflelds Eye Hospital was founded.

1802, The London Fever Hospital was founded.

1792, The Liverpool Royal Lunatic Asylum was founded.

1787, Wakefield Hospital was founded.

1784, Hull Royal Infirmary was founded.

1783, Kent Dispensary and Miller Hospital was founded.

1782, Nottingham General Hospital was founded.

1777, The York Asylum was founded.

1776, Hereford General Infirmary was founded.

1771, Leicester Infirmary was founded.

1770, Radcliffe Informary, Oxford, was founded.

1769, Lincoln County Hospital was founded.

1767, Leeds Infirmary was founded.

1766, The Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum was founded.

1752, Manchester Royal Infirmary was founded.

1750, The City of London Maternity Hospital was founded.

1746, Middlesex County Hospital was founded, to treat smallpox. Worcester Royal Infirmary was founded.

1745, Gloucester Infirmary was founded. Shrewsbury Infirmary was founded. Liverpool Royal Infirmary was founded

1743, Devon and Exeter Hospital was founded.

17/10/1739, The Foundling Hospital (now Coram), the UK’s first dedicated children’s charity, was created by a Royal Charter of King George II.

1738, The Bath GeneraL Hospital was founded, so as to make use of the curative properties of the water in the spa town.

1723, Guys Hospital, London, was founded by Thomas Guy. The hospital opened in 1725.

14/1/1716. Westminster Hospital founded.

30/6/1696. Greenwich Hospital founded.

26/6/1553, Christ’s Hospital London was founded on the ste of the former Greyfirars Monsatery by King Edward VI, as a hospital for poor children.

1407, Berthlehem Hospital, London, became an institution for the insane; later known as Bedlam.

5/6/1123. St Bartholomew Hospital, London, was founded.

Ca. 1085, St Wulstan’s Hospital, Worcester, was founded by Bishop Wulstan.

1084, St John’s Hospital, Canterbury was founded by Lanfranc.

794, A Saxon hospital existed at St Albans.


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