We are living through momentous times in Britain. Genetics and new technologies promise to transform practice and our successive governments promise to transform services.
It is time to look now at the developments we see around us and put them into an historical perspective. None more so than tracing services for children. Shaping the Future and Celebrating the Past traces the histories of those children’s services now gathered together in Central Manchester. The intricate institutional and biographical stories relate not only to local history, but to the wider services for children and in particular the social history of Manchester.
In Britain, children’s medicine was not seen at first as different from adult medicine. The children of the poor mostly lived and died untreated. The wealthier families had their children attended by general practitioners at home.
Compared with other countries in Europe, Britain was late in addressing the medical needs of children. As early as 1802 a former orphanage was reorganised as a hospital for sick children in Paris. By mid-century in several European capitals the medical schools and major hospitals which were run by the state or the church were providing opportunities for the development of paediatrics as a medical specialism.
Greater Manchester’s services for children began with a children’s dispensary in 1829 expanding after the 1850s when medical charities were becoming more popular.
By the time of the Great War, huge developments for sick children were seen and the foundations of services for sick children started to become national issues.
Tracing the history of paediatrics in Greater Manchester has not only been exciting but so interesting. Looking at how children’s services developed in Manchester enables us to compare developments nationally.