Lothian Hospital Histories

Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital

The Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital was the first purely orthopaedic hospital to be opened in Scotland. It was planned as a centre for the treatment of crippled children in South Eastern Scotland. An appeal was launched and a site chosen at Fairmilehead. The foundation stone was laid in 1929. By May 1930 sufficient funds had been raised to allow construction to get under way, and the first two wards opened to patients in June 1932. A third was opened shortly after and a fourth was built in 1936.

The hospital was originally named the "Edinburgh Hospital for Crippled Children". In 1934 it was renamed the "Princess Margaret Rose Hospital for Crippled Children", the word "crippled" being dropped in 1937. In 1957 the change of name to the "Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital" acknowledged the increasing number of adult patients being treated there.

Each of the original wards had 25 beds. Since the major causes of crippling amongst children in the 1930s and 1940s were tuberculosis and osteomyelitis the wards were, in accord with current practice, completely open at the south end. When necessary screens were put up to keep the snow off the beds, and patients were kept warm with many blankets and hot water bottles.

By the 1950s epidemics of poliomyelitis had replaced tuberculosis as the major crippling disease. By now the wards had been insulated by means of glass screens from the harshness of the weather.

By the 1960s vaccinations had virtually stamped out poliomyelitis but increasing traffic on the roads had given rise to accident cases requiring orthopaedic surgery. The hospital became involved in the treatment of adults, and a centre for amputee rehabilitation services and prosthetic provision. At the same time the thalidomide tragedy produced children born without limbs. The prosthetic department became a major centre for a research and development programme to meet the needs of thalidomide and other victims.

The special training of nurses in orthopaedics began at the hospital in 1941. Nurses followed a two year training programme at its school of nursing before going on to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to take the three year general training course. At the end of this course the candidate would be awarded certificates for Registered General Nursing and Orthopaedic Nursing. In 1978 pre-registration orthopaedic nursing was discontinued. Registered and Enrolled nurses could now take a year's course in orthopaedic nursing after their basic training had been completed.

In 1948 the hospital came under the Board of Management for Edinburgh Central Hospitals, transferring in 1970 to Edinburgh Royal Victoria and Associated Hospitals Board of Management. It became part of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh NHS Trust in 1994 and subsequently Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust in 1999. The Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital was closed in 2002.

Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital records