The hospitals

Helen Zealley

In this essay:

The following provides a brief history of the hospitals in East Lothian during the 20th Century with particular reference to the changes between 1945 and 2000:

Roodlands Hospital, Haddington

Built by East Lothian Council in 1936 as an Infectious Disease Hospital with four isolation pavilions, Roodlands developed into a general surgical and medical hospital in the early 1950s as the need for isolation facilities reduced. It fulfilled this important role, with the development of additional services and new facilities, until further service changes occurred in the early 1990s, changing the hospital once more into a Community Hospital – partly in response to the new patterns of care and partly to enhance the cost-effectiveness of the overall services for Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians.

See also the personal reflections of Mr Graham Meikle (General Surgeon), Dr Roger Kellett (General Physician) and Sister Maggie Jane MacDonald.

East Fortune Hospital, Athelstaneford, North Berwick

Originally built as World War I naval airship station, East Fortune was adapted in 1922 by the Joint Sanatorium Board for Lothian and the Border Counties for the treatment of all forms of tuberculosis. In 1926 an operating theatre was added. During a long period under the direction of Dr W A Murray, including relocation to huts at Bangour Hospital in West Lothian during World War II, the hospital provided care to patients from a wide geographical area including overflow patients from Edinburgh. Consultant surgeons from Edinburgh made regular visits to provide the then current treatments prior to the introduction of streptomycin in 1948, which radically improved the outcome of treatment. A laboratory was added in 1951 and, by 1973, the need for tuberculosis beds had reduced dramatically from 300 to 5. The vacated beds were transferred initially to chest diseases (45), geriatrics (125) and mental handicap (later designated learning disabilities) to ease overcrowding at Gogarburn Hospital (125). Final closure of the hospital occurred in 1997, along with the changes to Roodlands

See also the personal reflections by Professor Jimmy Williamson (TB Sanatorium days) and Dr JS Milne (Geriatric Service days).

Herdmanflat Hospital, Haddington

Built in 1866 as an asylum by East Lothian County Council, this hospital continued to provide a focal point for the East Lothian mental health service to 2000 and beyond. It is set in extensive grounds on the edge of Haddington, which have allowed the upgrading and development of additional facilities, including incorporation for a period, of the Vert Annex for psycho-geriatric patients. Management of the service changed over the years and clinical changes enabled a change of focus to allow most patients to be treated in the community.

See also the personal reflections by Dr Lindsay Waddell, former Physician Superintendent.

The Vert Memorial Maternity Hospital, Haddington

Built of red sandstone from Amisfield Mansion House, the Vert Hospital on the outskirts of Haddington was initially founded in 1929 as a Cottage Hospital by John Vert of Pendleton, Oregon, with a maternity section added between 1935 and 1940. Between 1948 and the early 1970s, after Roodlands Hospital had been established to provide ‘acute care’, the Vert was used primarily as a maternity hospital for Haddington and east East Lothian. In 1971 the maternity unit was joined by a group of 21 elderly long-stay and dementia patients from Bangour Village Hospital. They formed the initial core of a psycho-geriatric annex for Herdmanflat Hospital, and this remained after the maternity unit closed in 1973, and until the Vert closed in the 1980s.

Alderston Convalescent Home, Haddington

This building, close to Roodlands Hospital, was founded around 1930 by the Scottish Rural Workers’ Friendly Society. In 1956, as the need for convalescent care declined, the building acquired an important new function as the Nurses’ Home and Training School for Roodlands

See also the personal reflections by Sister Maggie Jane MacDonald.

Haddington Smallpox Hospital

This small hospital, located at the top of the plantings close to Roodlands Hospital, was demolished after World War II when it was no longer needed. The last case of smallpox in East Lothian occurred in 1942.

Belhaven Hospital, Dunbar

Built in 1901 as a council fever hospital, Belhaven had evolved into a hospital for the chronic sick by the time it was assimilated into the NHS in 1948. Since then it mainly provided long-stay care for older people with an additional ward being added in 1958 and a GP unit in 1973.

Cottage Hospital, Dunbar

Originally a small World War I Battery Hospital (opened May 1927) with Yorke Lodge added in 1948, this hospital provided a GP facility until the service transferred to Belhaven in 1973 and the Cottage Hospital was closed. The building was empty for several years; by 1985, the site was being used for the building of Lammermuir House, a Civil Service Benevolent Home.

Edington Hospital, North Berwick

Built in 1912 as a local community hospital this small unit continues to function as a GP facility now closely linked to the local health centre.

Edenhall Hospital, Musselburgh

The history behind this hospital started in 1915 in a mansion house near Kelso in the Borders providing care for 36 limbless ex-servicemen. By 1917 the accommodation was deemed inadequate so the Red Cross obtained Pinkieburn House in Musselburgh and extended the service to 43, and later 100, beds. In 1920, management of the hospital transferred to the Ministry of Pensions providing convalescent care to ex-servicemen and in 1953 this Ministry, together with the Ministry of National Insurance, transferred it to the NHS. By 1973, the hospital had developed into a local general hospital with medical and surgical units, a second line orthopaedic service and a geriatric unit. In 1959 the national spinal injuries unit was established.

The 1990s saw further changes with the withdrawal of general services, the transfer of the spinal unit to Glasgow and an increased focus on services for older people.

Musselburgh Maternity Hospital

Built in the 1920s and originally planned as a fever hospital for Musselburgh and its surroundings by East Lothian County Council, this hospital subsequently became a children’s home before transition to a GP maternity facility between around 1950 and the early 1970s. Its name was then changed to Park House and it functioned as a day unit for the mental health service.