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Mearnskirk Hospital - An Exhibition Produced by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
A Brief history of Mearnskirk
  Mearnskirk in the snow, 1950  
Mearnskirk Hospital in the snow, 1950
Image courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

The opening of Mearnskirk Hospital in Renfrewshire on the 1st May 1930 marked the completion of the institutional portion of the scheme for the prevention of Tuberculosis (TB). The first steps were taken in 1890 when the Corporation of Glasgow obtained power with regard to milk production to control certain strains of the disease known to be of Bovine origin. Prior to 1913 there were no institutions specifically for TB, patients were usually incarcerated in general and fever hospitals or sanatoria belonging to other authorities. However in 1913 three sanatoria pavilions were made available at Ruchill Hospital followed in 1914 with Bellfield Sanatoria at Lanark. Mearnskirk was the last to be built, and it was decided to devote the whole institution to the treatment of children under fifteen years. The hospital was able to accommodate 500 children requiring orthopaedic treatment. It was also designed in such a way that the main pavilions had a south western exposure which enabled them to obtain the maximum amount of sunshine.

During WWII the hospital gradually assumed the new role of an emergency medical service hospital. In 1940 the Department of Health instructed that four of the huts at Mearnskirk be set aside for the treatment of adult TB, due to the rise amongst the civilian population.

The work at Mearnskirk was changing with the introduction of adult patients and also the opening of the Thoracic Unit in 1946 and the Ear, Nose and Throat unit in 1948. After 1955 there was a decline in the number of children with bone and joint TB. The low rate is in keeping with the general improvements in child health and advances in the practice of medicine. The rise of adult patients over children brought around the change from Mearnskirk as a hospital for children to a General Hospital.

To find out more about the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, please visit their website.