During the 19th century, the medical profession was a predominantly male dominated environment, however, changes were afoot. The Bruntsfield Hospital and Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital (EIMMH) were formed to meet the wishes of two Edinburgh pioneers of medicine, Sophia Jex-Blake and Elsie Inglis – to provide healthcare for women and to offer practical work experience for young women doctors.
Bruntsfield Hospital originated in the Edinburgh Provident Dispensary for Women and Children, which opened in Grove Street in 1878, and in 1899 Bruntsfield Lodge was acquired.
Elsie Inglis ran a Hospice in George Square from the 1890s, and the High Street from 1904, to provide obstetric care. In 1910 it merged with the Bruntsfield Hospital. The amalgamation of these two hospitals with similar aims saw medical, surgical and gynaecological work being done at Bruntsfield, with obstetric and infant work at the Hospice. They both retained their names and dispensaries, however.
During the First World War, Elsie Inglis set up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH) which sent units to France, Serbia, Russia, Corsica and Greece. Inglis herself died in 1917 and when the SWH were disbanded it was decided to use the funds to make a hospital as a memorial to her. The result was the Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital (EIMMH), which opened in 1925 in Abbeyhill backing onto Holyrood Park.
Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital
With the formation of the NHS in 1948, both hospitals became part of the Edinburgh Southern Hospitals group. The EIMMH closed in 1988 and Bruntsfield Hospital in 1989, however, they are still both fondly recalled.
LHSA contains a wealth of records regarding the life spans of the two hospitals from committee minutes, publications and photographs to staff and patient records.
More of LHSA’s images of these hospitals are available on Flicker, and those of the EIMMH were recently featured by the popular Facebook group, Lost Edinburgh.