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G242 The first day – a film recreating 18th-century voluntary hospital child health care
  1. AN Williams
  1. Virtual Academic Unit, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton, UK


Children are a nation’s most precious resource and all deserve having the best start to help them live full and meaningful lives. At some time or another, all children are unwell, but some have additional needs. 21st century child health care is exemplified by that of the Children’s Directorate, Northampton General Hospital, United Kingdom.

Here, a range of different units working together provide excellent care as an integrated Children’s Department. For children with more complex needs, other provision such as educational support also have an important role.

Until recently, historians of paediatrics have generally assumed that “paediatrics as a specialised branch of medicine had no real existence before the middle of the nineteenth century.”1 Of course, this is only true if we equate paediatrics here with specialised children’s hospitals and with professional organisations.

It is clear from earlier surviving archival records such as that held at Northampton that hospital paediatrics has a much longer history and that hospital child health care was occurring and in large numbers. Indeed the first inpatient ever admitted at the then Northampton General Infirmary on 29th March 1743 was Thomasin Grace a 13 year old child who suffered from ‘scald head’. Reconstructing the history of what might be called “paediatrics before paediatricians” using present day Northampton children with original archival material is what this brief film will demonstrate.2


  1. Garrison FH, Abt AF. History of pediatrics. London, England: WB Saunders, 1965: 1

  2. Williams AN, Sharma R. Children in Hospitals before there were Children’s Hospitals. Pediatrics 2014;134(3):1–3

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