York Dispensary Archive

Scope and Content

Administrative records, including deeds, 1884, 1897; rules and regulations, 1925, 1930s; directors’ minutes, 1878-1934; House Committee minutes and agendas, 1899-1948; Drug Committee minutes, 1887-1941; papers and correspondence relating to annual meetings, 1936-1942; annual reports, 1792, 1803, 1808, 1899, 1901-1902, 1904-1946; general correspondence, 1913-1955; secretary’s correspondence, 1930-1940; correspondence relating to staff appointments, 1927-1949; papers relating to subscriptions, including lists of subscribers, subscription books, subscription ticket receipt books, and correspondence, 1822-1948.

Financial records, including treasurer’s abstracts, annual income and expenditure, 1881-1897; dispensary accounts, 1941-1942; monthly hospital expenditure, 1916-1922; monthly bank statements, 1930-1939; Midland Bank credit books, 1935-1947; drug and household accounts, 1924-1935; cash books, 1842-1873, 1905-1910, 1922-1935; secretary’s petty cash book, 1900-1925; matron’s petty cash books, 1929-1947; Waiting Hall collection box book, 1931-1948; tradesmen’s’ bill books, 1937-1945; papers relating to investments, 1942; papers relating to tax, 1944-1949; papers relating to annual distribution and recommendations for grants, 1909-1927; and file of papers and correspondence relating to the new arrangements of the NHS, closing of the Dispensary and the Dispensary’s assets, statistics, 1948.

Medical records, including quarterly report notebooks of different types of patients treated, 1933-1948; matron’s monthly reports, 1919-1939; monthly statistics, 1916-1933; dispensary vouchers, including invoices, 1927-1947; patient register, 1938-1948; obstetrics register, 1903-1912; register of operations, 1906-1910; register of dental extractions, 1918-1925; patient case notes, 1944-1948; book of formulae for prescriptions, n.d; prescriptions book, 1925-1937; register of prescribed drugs, 1946-1948; book of carbon copies of prescriptions given, 1945-1947; counterfoil of notices issued for infectious diseases, with patient details filled in, 1946-1947; counterfoils of death certificates issued, with patient details filled in, 1946-1948; unused certificates of sickness, c.1930s.

Dispensary Maternity Hospital records, comprising committee minutes, 1908-1916; cash book, 1908-1910; receipt book, 1916; and admission ticket, n.d.

Notes and news cuttings relating to the history of York Dispensary, 1899-1930s; print of exterior of York Dispensary, c.1830s; photograph of Dispensary directors and staff inspecting new operating theatre, 1938.

Annual reports of associated bodies, comprising York Medical Officer of Health annual reports, 1934, 1936, 1941; York Hospital Sunday Fund annual reports, 1938, 1940, 1945; York County Hospital annual report, 1938; and York County and District Hospital Contributory Scheme annual reports, 1937, 1938, 1939.

Administrative / Biographical History

York Dispensary was founded in 1788. A charity funded by subscription, the Dispensary was designed to complement the medical and surgical services offered by York County Hospital by treating the poor of the city who were suffering from chronic illnesses or other ailments which were excluded from the remit of the hospital.

A Dispensary was, essentially, a hospital without beds, thus enabling it to run more cheaply and serve larger numbers of patients. The doctors attached to the charity saw out-patients, and also ‘home-patients’ – ie they went out to visit patients in their own homes. In effect, the Dispensary offered a free primary care service to the poor, who could not afford to pay doctors’ fees.

The Dispensary was initially situated in rooms at the York Merchant Adventurers Hall. It saw 900 patients in its first year and was an immediate success, with patient numbers rising to 4,500-5,000 a year by the 1880s. As a result of this growing demand, in 1806 the Dispensary moved to larger premises in St Andrewgate before relocating again in 1829 to a purpose built site at New Street and then in 1899 to Duncombe Place where it was able to greatly extend its treatment and examination facilities.

From the 1880s the Dispensary offered a dental service and in 1895 it began a domiciliary maternity service treating between 100 and 120 women a year. In 1908 it was decided to additionally open a small maternity hospital to train pupil midwives and provide facilities for more complex cases and women with difficult home circumstances. The maternity hospital was situated at Ogleforth and was very small, treating 50-70 patients a year.

The 1911 Insurance Act drastically affected the Dispensary’s patient base, as insured working people gained, under the Act, free access to GPs. By 1915, Dispensary patient totals had fallen by a third, to just less than 5,000 per annum. But the Dispensary still fulfilled a vital role in treating uninsured women, children and the elderly, who all came to the Dispensary in increasing numbers.

In 1922 the Dispensary’s maternity hospital was transferred to larger premises at Acomb Hall where it was run jointly by the Dispensary and York Corporation before the Corporation took full responsibility for it in 1937, along with the domiciliary maternity service which was by then also based at Acomb.

The Dispensary expanded and modernised its services in the 1930s, providing more treatment rooms and a small operating theatre in time for its 150th anniversary in 1938. However the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948 made its services redundant by giving everyone free access to health services. As a result the Dispensary closed and its premises were sold to York Corporation for use as a health centre.

In 1954-5 the Charity Commissioners approved a new scheme for the use of the Dispensary’s remaining funds and the proceeds from the sale of its property with the creation of the York Dispensary Sick Poor Fund under the management of the Dispensary’s directors, now named trustees. The income of the fund was to be used for the sick poor of York by the supply of special food and medicine, medical comforts, extra bedding, fuel, and medical and surgical appliances, the provision of domestic help, or money for these purposes, or convalescent or special treatments or for any other ways of relieving suffering or infirmity.

Today the Dispensary continues to operate as a charitable fund providing grants to York Corporation Health Department and charitable organisations in and around York.

Conditions Governing Access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Acquisition Information

The records of York Dispensary Maternity Hospital were transferred to the Borthwick Institute in 1995 from North Yorkshire Record Office. The archive pf York Dispensary was transferred to the Borthwick Institute from York City Archives in 2013.

Note

York Dispensary was founded in 1788. A charity funded by subscription, the Dispensary was designed to complement the medical and surgical services offered by York County Hospital by treating the poor of the city who were suffering from chronic illnesses or other ailments which were excluded from the remit of the hospital.

A Dispensary was, essentially, a hospital without beds, thus enabling it to run more cheaply and serve larger numbers of patients. The doctors attached to the charity saw out-patients, and also ‘home-patients’ – ie they went out to visit patients in their own homes. In effect, the Dispensary offered a free primary care service to the poor, who could not afford to pay doctors’ fees.

The Dispensary was initially situated in rooms at the York Merchant Adventurers Hall. It saw 900 patients in its first year and was an immediate success, with patient numbers rising to 4,500-5,000 a year by the 1880s. As a result of this growing demand, in 1806 the Dispensary moved to larger premises in St Andrewgate before relocating again in 1829 to a purpose built site at New Street and then in 1899 to Duncombe Place where it was able to greatly extend its treatment and examination facilities.

From the 1880s the Dispensary offered a dental service and in 1895 it began a domiciliary maternity service treating between 100 and 120 women a year. In 1908 it was decided to additionally open a small maternity hospital to train pupil midwives and provide facilities for more complex cases and women with difficult home circumstances. The maternity hospital was situated at Ogleforth and was very small, treating 50-70 patients a year.

The 1911 Insurance Act drastically affected the Dispensary’s patient base, as insured working people gained, under the Act, free access to GPs. By 1915, Dispensary patient totals had fallen by a third, to just less than 5,000 per annum. But the Dispensary still fulfilled a vital role in treating uninsured women, children and the elderly, who all came to the Dispensary in increasing numbers.

In 1922 the Dispensary’s maternity hospital was transferred to larger premises at Acomb Hall where it was run jointly by the Dispensary and York Corporation before the Corporation took full responsibility for it in 1937, along with the domiciliary maternity service which was by then also based at Acomb.

The Dispensary expanded and modernised its services in the 1930s, providing more treatment rooms and a small operating theatre in time for its 150th anniversary in 1938. However the creation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948 made its services redundant by giving everyone free access to health services. As a result the Dispensary closed and its premises were sold to York Corporation for use as a health centre.

In 1954-5 the Charity Commissioners approved a new scheme for the use of the Dispensary’s remaining funds and the proceeds from the sale of its property with the creation of the York Dispensary Sick Poor Fund under the management of the Dispensary’s directors, now named trustees. The income of the fund was to be used for the sick poor of York by the supply of special food and medicine, medical comforts, extra bedding, fuel, and medical and surgical appliances, the provision of domestic help, or money for these purposes, or convalescent or special treatments or for any other ways of relieving suffering or infirmity.

Today the Dispensary continues to operate as a charitable fund providing grants to York Corporation Health Department and charitable organisations in and around York.

Other Finding Aids

A temporary typescript finding aid, to file level, is available for consultation in the searchroom of the Borthwick Institute.

Archivist's Note

Created 14.08.15.

Conditions Governing Use

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Custodial History

The York Dispensary Archive was originally deposited at York Reference Library, later York City Archives, in 1964.

Accruals

Further accruals are not expected.

Related Material

For related material held by the Borthwick Institute, see Acomb Hospital Archive which contains records relating to the Dispensary Maternity Hospital, 1910-1923.

Bibliography

Oswald Allen, 'A History of York Dispensary' (York, 1845)



Katherine A. Webb, “One of the most useful charities in the City”: York Dispensary 1788-1988 (University of York, Borthwick Paper No. 74, 1988)

Additional Information

Published

GB 193