Nov 252020
 

13 Bank Street, EH1 2LN

Victoria Dispensary
Victor

Tuberculosis, or consumption, has long been a major public health issue because it is both a deadly and highly infectious disease. The Industrial Revolution, with cramped housing, primitive sanitation, and widespread malnutrition, created the perfect environment to allow tuberculosis to rise to epidemic levels by the 18th century. Because it affected young people at a high rate and because of the pale skin caused by the disease it was also sometimes called “the robber of youth” and “the white plague.”  The Victoria Dispensary for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, founded by Sir Robert William Philip (1857-1939) in 1887, was the first of its kind in the world. Together with the Royal Victoria Hospital at Comely Bank founded in 1894, and Polton Farm Colony, Midlothian, founded in 1910, the dispensary formed the heart of the so called ‘Edinburgh Scheme’ for combating tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is still a major public health problem worldwide. The World Health Organisation is committed to eradicating the disease by 2050 with the help of improved drug treatment and prevention strategies.

Plaque for Sir Robert Philip
Plaque for Sir Robert Philip
Inscription still visible on the building: The destitute sick
Inscription still visible on the building: The destitute sick
Sir Robert William Philip (Wellcome Collection)
Sir Robert William Philip (Wellcome Collection)

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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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