Dr West's Arguments in Favour of Establishing a Hospital for Children
The following text was printed in Dr Charles West’s small book, published in 1854, ‘How to Nurse Sick Children’. It lays out in a very concise manner his arguments in support of the need for children’s hospitals in England, and London in particular.
Illustrative of the Need of a Children's Hospital
1st – The mortality of children under ten years is only two per cent. less than it was fifty years ago. Of 50,000 persons dying annually in London, 21,000 are children under that age.
2nd – The Hospitals of London are inadequate to afford accommodation for sick Children. In January 1843, of 2,336 patients in all the hospitals, only 26 were children under ten, suffering from diseases peculiar to their age.
3rd – Medical knowledge concerning Children's diseases is particularly defective, owing to the want of sufficient opportunities for their study.
4th – A special Hospital for Children is needed, because the proper care of Sick Children requires special arrangements.
5th – Children's hospitals have been established with success in seventeen of the chief cities of Europe, but there was not one in the United Kingdom till the Hospital for Sick Children was opened in Ormond Street.
6th – The Opinion of the Medical Profession is almost unanimous in its favour:
"I will venture to say that the poor, as a class, will gain more from the establishment of a Hospital for Children's Diseases than they would from any general hospital."
"It is a truth which ought to be confessed that the disorders of early life are less generally understood than those that are incident to maturer age; and it is a truth which still more deserves publicity, that the imperfection of our knowledge is mainly owing to our want of hospitals dedicated to the reception of sick Children."
"The proposal to establish in the immediate vicinity of London a Hospital for Sick Children, is a measure so fraught with prospective benefits to every class of the community, that I cannot but regard it with deep interest and solicitude."
"It is a decided WANT in the Metropolis. * * * You have my best wishes for its success, and shall have any influence I can obtain for you."
"I shall be happy to co-operate in its establishment, in any way which you may deem most likely to benefit the Institution."
"The establishment of a Children's hospital in London, while proving an inestimable boon to themselves and their distressed patients, must also tend greatly to the advancement of medical knowledge in the important department of Infantile diseases."
Sir John Forbes