Sir Robert William Philip
Edinburgh's Royal Victoria Hospital originally started with the renting of Craigleith House, Craigleith Road, Edinburgh in 1894,by Dr Robert William Philip who was a pioneer in the treatment of Tuberculosis.
The above photo is courtesy of Wellcome Collection
The Early Years
Dr Robert Philip set up the first tuberculosis clinic in the world in two small rooms in 13 Bank Street, Edinburgh on the 25th November 1887 named "The Victoria Dispensary for Consumption (TB) and Diseases of the Chest."
A blue plaque on a building at the top of the Mound opposite the Law Courts
"Near this place in 1887, Dr Robert Philip founded a tuberculosis dispensary, the first clinic in the world dedicated to fighting a disease of which he foretold Man's eventual mastery. That vision has brought hope to many lands".
Link to https://openplaques.org/plaques/1981
In four years, the two rooms were quite inadequate to meet the numbers of referred
patients and in 1891 the dispensary moved to larger premises in Lauriston
In 1911 the now Royal Victoria Dispensary moved to much larger premises in Spittal Street.
Dr Philip, after creating the first clinic, was to create a sanatorium to work in co-ordination with the dispensary. He stated that the sanatorium should not be isolated but be within the City for the convenience of patients and relatives and to show the community that fresh air treatment was possible in the heart of an urban area. To this end a few of his friends emerged as the Victoria Hospital Tuberculosis Trust and a suitable site was found in a charming Georgian mansion:
Dr Robert Philip - The Founder of The Royal Victoria Hospital
See other pages in this website - The Royal Victoria Hospital
1894 - Craigleith House,Craigleith Road, Edinburgh, a late Georgian Mansion/Villa, was leased to Sir Robert Philip and turned into the first Tuberculosis (TB) Sanatorium in Scotland containing 12 beds. It was inaugurated on the 22nd November 1894 by Lord Stormonth-Darling, in the presence of a large assemblance of ladies and gentlemen.
1899 - Craigleith House and its extensive grounds (60 acres) were bought for £1,000 per acre by Dr.Robert Philip.
The grounds were essential in the treatment of Tuberculosis as the patients were required to get plenty
of fresh air and the surrounding trees helped to "filter" the air! TB was prevalent in the early 1900s and treatment was exposure to sunlight.
1904 - In many early maps/plans,it was known just as Craigleith, then Victoria Hospital for Consumption until Royal Patronage was given by King Edward VII in 1904 and the hospital became "The Royal Victoria Hospital for Consumption".
A Revolutionary Treatment of Tuberculosis
Treatment of TB, in its early stages, in the early days was directed by Dr Robert
Philip and consisted of increasing the patient's immunological system by
initially increasing their contact with fresh air, sunlight and mild exercise.
At the same time it was necessary to stop the spread of the disease, as well as finding other methods of defeating the disease by surgical procedures, medication, immunisation and improving the living conditions - particularly in regard to cleanliness and the method for disposing of contaminated body fluids.
His treatment methods, before the discovery of medication for the disease in its early stages, was revolutionary in that
he would isolate the patient from family and friends, place them into an environment with plenty of sun
and fresh air and with a certain amount of exercise.This was known as the Edinburgh Scheme.
He also ensured that a follow up of the patient's contacts was necessary as Tuberculosis was a very contagious disease and there was also the requirement to educate patient and family on disposal of body fluids which would be heavily contaminated with the tuberculosis bacilli, which was discovered as the causative organism by Robert Koch in Germany in 1882 - the year Dr Robert Philip graduated MD at Edinburgh University.
Death of Sir Robert William Philip 1857-1939
The following death notice was taken from the Scotsman's archives dated 26th January 1939
Obituary of Sir Robert William Philip 1857-1939
The Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, published in the September 2018 edition, an historical obituary by Dr Derek Doyle of Sir Robert William Philip (1857-1939), along with his portrait and I am grateful to Dr Derek Doyle and the Royal College of Physicians for permission to publish it in full.
A commemorative Plaque was erected on 17th March 1995 to honour the memory of Sir Robert Philip,1857-1939, WORLD PIONEER OF TUBERCULOSIS CONTROL AND FOUNDER OF THIS HOSPITAL.