Management 1728-1974; administration 1854-2002; finance (ledgers) 1729-1969; salaries and wages books 1880-1968; finance (papers) 1727-1974; supplies: drugs, housekeeping etc 1797-1968; plans and buildings 1738-1988; correspondence 1727-1984; societies attached to the RIE 1913-2001; schools attached to the RIE 1913-1985; professional associations 1933-1986; nursing 1828-1998; medical students 1768-1987; Residency 1838-1987; non-nursing staff 1842-1988; patients: financial 1856-1964; patients (bound records) 1762-1987; patients (bound records): surgical ward journals 1841-1977; patients (bound records): medical and gynaecological ward journals 1910-1999; patients (bound records): specialist ward journals 1900-1967; patients (bound records): miscellaneous ward journals 1921-1958; patients (bound records): operation books 1876-1979; patients (bound records): anaesthetic books 1904-1981; patients (unbound records) I 1920s-1970s; patients (unbound records) II 1940s-1990s; patients (microfilms) 1920s-1940s; related homes, hospitals and specialist departments 1867-1978
Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
The original Edinburgh Infirmary, Hospital for the Sick Poor, Physicians' Hospital, or Little House was located at the head of Robertson's Close. A town house was rented from the Town Council and patients were admitted to the four beds then available from 6 August 1729. In 1936 a Royal Charter was obtained under the name The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. A 228-bed purpose-built hospital designed by William Adam soon followed, and the first patients were admitted to it in 1741. It was located between what are now Infirmary Street and Drummond Street. Two further surgical hospital buildings were added in 1832 and 1853. Due to overcrowding throughout this so-called High School Yards site, David Bryce was commissioned to design a new hospital and in 1879 the Infirmary moved to Lauriston Place, its main building conforming to the pavilion style of surgical and medial ward arrangement.
The original appeal for funds was led by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, making the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh the first voluntary hospital in Scotland. Its charitable subscribers were formed into a Court of Contributors who elected annual Managers drawn from the main occupational and professional groups of the City. This form of funding and administration, with few modifications, continued until 1948 when the National Health Service was founded. Thereafter the Infirmary, including the Royal Maternity and Simpson Memorial Hospital which amalgamated with it in 1926, became the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Associated Hospitals group, with its own Board of Management within the South Eastern Regional Hospital Board. Further administrative changes occurred in 1974, 1994 and 1999, over which time the hospital was successively part of the South Lothian District and then a Unit of Lothian Health Board, a Trust in its own right, and it is currently part of Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Concern over the Lauriston site was first expressed in 1946, when it was felt that the current Royal Infirmary buildings were insufficient to meet the needs of the new National Health Service. Various plans were put forward, including demolition and rebuilding of the existing site, and construction of a brand new Royal Infirmary on a greenfield site, along with another new southern general hospital. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s a number of options were discussed, but the decision was eventually made to rebuild at Lauriston in a series of phases which aimed to minimise disruption to patients and staff. Work was repeatedly delayed however, due in part to financial issues and also to the fact that the Secretary of State for Scotland declared that the listed buildings could not be demolished, and it was not until 1981 that the first phase of rebuilding was completed. Again however this plan did not come to fruition, and in the late 1990s work was begun on a new Royal Infirmary at Little France which would also replace the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion, the Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital and the City Hospital. Although still under construction and not due for full completion until 2003, the first patients moved in in January 2002 as the PMR closed.
Chronological within record class
Public access to these records is governed by the UK Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the latest version of the Scottish Government Records Management: NHS Code of Practice (Scotland). Whilst some records may be accessed freely by researchers, the aforementioned legislation and guidelines mean that records with sensitive information on named individuals may be closed to the public for a set time.
Where records are about named deceased adults, they will be open 75 years after the latest date in the record, on the next 01 January. Records about individuals below 18 years (living or deceased) or adults not proven to be deceased will be open 100 years after the latest date in the record, on the next 01 January. Further information on legislation and guidelines covering medical records can be found on the LHSA webpage (http://www.lhsa.lib.ed.ac.uk/).
LHSA can support the use of records closed to public access for legitimate clinical, historical and genealogical research purposes. Please contact the LHSA Archivist for more details regarding procedures on how you can apply for permission to view closed records. Telephone us on: 0131 650 3392 or email us at email@example.com
Royal Infirmary Archives, 23 Chalmers St, January 1981
Compiled by Mike Barfoot and Jenny McDermott using existing handlists
Other Finding Aids
Item-level descriptive list available
Records held within the National Health Service prior to transfer
Further accessions are expected
Catford, E.F. The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 1929-1979. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press. 1984.Catford, E.F. The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 1929-1979. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press. 1984.Eaves Walton, P.M. The 250th and 100th Anniversaries of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the 100th Anniversary of the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion. [Edinburgh: s.n., 1979]Eaves Walton, P.M. The 250th and 100th Anniversaries of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the 100th Anniversary of the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion. [Edinburgh: s.n., 1979]Goldman, Martin. Lister Ward. Bristol: Hilger, 1987.Goldman, Martin. Lister Ward. Bristol: Hilger, 1987.Logan Turner, A. Story of a great hospital: the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 1729-1929. Edinburgh: Mercat Press. 1979