A very useful piece of work started this year: the creation of a database of patients and basic information relating to them found in the nineteenth-century casebooks of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH). This is an invaluable resource for LHSA as it can be used to quickly find if a patient was in the Hospital, making the casebooks easily accessible and reducing handling of this unique material. There are now 1977 entries in the database! During the nineteenth century psychiatry was not a very precise science and this is highlighted by no fewer than nine types of diagnosis recorded in the REH database already: Mania, Mania (Chronic), Mania (of masturbation), Mania (Phthisical, i.e. related to Tuberculosis), Acute Mania, Epileptic Mania, General Paralysis, Melancholia and Melancholia (traumatic).
The REH database is part of a wide range of cataloguing work that has been carried out throughout 2012 to help open up the collections for research. We have catalogued new accessions, personal papers, photographs and material relating to NHS Lothian Board, but there has also been a focus of activity on the REH in light of its bicentenary next year...we've completed the listing of all REH casebook enclosures too. These enclosures consist of patient letters, charts and other information regarding patients put inside the casebooks by medical staff. The patient letters, in particular, provide a rare window into their thoughts and feelings. Since the enclosures are often loose they have been stored separately for safe-keeping, and now that they are listed as well we can be confident that all the information is preserved for future generations.
A few of LHSA's Royal Edinburgh Hospital casebooks