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Letter
Using the historical archives of a district general hospital
  1. Andrew N Williams
  1. Virtual Academic Unit, Children’s Directorate, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor  Andrew N Williams, Virtual Academic Unit, Childrens Directorate, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton NN1 5BD, UK; anw{at}doctors.org.uk

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The importance to all healthcare professionals of understanding the historical origins and changes in child health practice cannot be emphasised strongly enough. I believe such knowledge improves present and future medical practice.

Other than from a few tertiary centres, archives on child healthcare from UK district general hospitals are rare, as tragically most UK hospitals have long discarded them.1 These host institutions in some cases were treating children long before the opening of specialist children’s hospitals as well as having undertaken the majority of clinical work in the UK before and after the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS). Northampton General Hospital first opened as a general infirmary in 1744, its first inpatient being a 13-year-old child, Thomasin Grace.2

However, the Northampton General Hospital Archive (NGHA) is still preserved and very much active. It contains over 2000 books, plus other materials, …

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