Aug 102020
 

20 W Richmond St, Edinburgh EH8 9DX

Andrew Duncan

The current MacKenzie Medical Centre was once the site of the Royal Public Dispensary of Edinburgh, Scotland’s first public dispensary. In the early 1770s, Andrew Duncan taught at the University of Edinburgh, using chronically ill patients unable to pay for treatment. As the number of patients at these sessions kept increasing, Duncan proposed a public dispensary that would provide free healthcare in large numbers to the poor. When the dispensary opened in 1783, teaching was a key element of its practice and, as practical experience became a requirement in medical education, from 1890 onwards it was compulsory. In 1963, the dispensary building was donated to the University of Edinburgh. It is now a GP training practice, where students still have the opportunity for hands-on experience.

Mackenzie Medical Centre in 2017 (CC-SA by David Hawgood)
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Aug 102020
 

13 Bank Street, EH1 2LN

Sir Robert William Philip (1922)

On this location, in 1887, Sir Robert William Philip opened The Royal Victoria Dispensary for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest. This was the first dispensary in the world which specialised in tuberculosis (TB). Sir Robert Philip qualified as a doctor in 1882, the same year that Robert Koch discovered the tuberculosis virus. He dedicated his practice to researching treatment options for TB. In 1891 the dispensary moved to 26 Lauriston Place, and eventually to Spittal Street in 1912, where it remained until its closure. The Royal Victoria Hospital for Consumption opened in 1894 in Craigleith House and acted as a sanitorium where patients with early symptoms could rest and get fresh air. These locations, together with the City Fever Hospital, established what would come to be known as the “Edinburgh Scheme for Tuberculosis.” The scheme consisted of patients visiting the dispensary for diagnosis and assessment. If TB was established the patient’s home and relatives would be visited and assessed. Parts of the ‘Edinburgh Scheme’ are still used in the assessment of TB patients today.

Patient in bed at home under the care of Dispensary nurse, c.1908-1914.
Corner of Bank and N(orth) Bank Street.
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