|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON|
A brief history of healthcare provision in London
THE METROPOLITAN ASYLUMS BOARD
MENTAL DEFICIENCY ASYLUMS
Whilst the Counties provided asylums for the mentally ill poor, MAB was tasked with providing care for children and adults with mental deficiency who, until then, lived in workhouses.
Land was acquired and two asylums were built, one at Leavesden for north Londoners and one at Caterham for south Londoners. Both opened in 1870 and quickly became overcrowded.
Patients were graded according to their ability to be trained for some kind of occupation. Higher-grade mentally deficient patients learned a trade, while lower-grade ones helped with domestic and laundry work.
The Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, intended to provide care and protection of mentally defective patients, established four grades of mental deficiency:
In 1903 the Tooting Bec Hospital opened to relieve pressure on the other asylums. It was intended mainly for elderly patients with senile dementia.
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Digby A, Wright D (eds) 1996 From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency: Historical Perspectives on People with Learning Disabilities. London, Routledge.
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