A brief history of healthcare provision in London


Tuberculosis (TB) or 'consumption' (from the Greek phthisis, meaning 'to waste away') was a common infectious disease, particularly prevalent amongst the poor, and MAB  became responsible for the care of TB patients in 1912.  

Initially, in 1914, the Downs School in Sutton became a sanatorium for children, 100 beds were made available at the Northern Hospital, and a Receiving Home for Children in Milman's Street, Chelsea, was taken over for use as a sanatorium for women with advanced disease.

Grove Park Hospital, a former workhouse bought by MAB in 1918, eventually opened in 1926.  Pregnant women with TB were admitted to a special wing there and transferred to Lewisham Hospital for delivery, where there was single-room accommodation.  After confinement, mothers were encouraged to return to Grove Park Hospital to continue treatment, while the infants were handed over to relatives or sent to a foster home provided by the Invalid Children's Aid Association until they could be returned to their mothers.

WW1 disrupted the programme as many hospitals were requisitioned by the War Office for use as military hospitals.  However, in 1919 High Wood Hospital for Children, originally opened in 1904 to treat children with ophthalmia, was converted to treat those with non-pulmonary TB.  In the same year the Hendon Infirmary was bought by MAB and re-opened in 1920 as a TB hospice.

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