Hospital records are useful sources for family, social and medical history. We hold a substantial quantity of records, with many dating back to the early 19th Century.
Brief historical background to hospital records
Prior to the setting up of the National Health Service in 1948, if you needed hospital treatment and were unable to pay for private treatment, your options were to try to obtain treatment either at a voluntary hospital or at a public hospital run by the local authorities.
Voluntary hospitals in Liverpool had been in existence since the setting up of the Liverpool Infirmary (later the Liverpool Royal Infirmary) in 1749. The nineteenth century saw a number of new voluntary hospitals set up such as the David Lewis Northern Hospital and the Royal Southern Hospital. Voluntary hospitals were able to offer only limited free treatment; patients were expected to pay what they could afford or to reimburse expenses at a later date
Liverpool had a number of workhouses such as Toxteth Park, Mill Road and Belmont, run by Poor Law unions, which were public bodies, to care for the destitute. During the later part of the nineteenth century the level of medical care provided for workhouse inmates increased. The hospital wings of these workhouses increased in size and patients were admitted to the workhouse hospitals for treatment rather than being admitted as workhouse inmates. The workhouses often changed their name to 'institutions' after about 1913 to reflect this change in role and also because the name 'workhouse' carried a stigma. In 1930 the Poor Law unions were abolished and medical care for the poor became the responsibility of a local Public Assistance Committee. The workhouses officially became known as hospitals at this time or shortly thereafter but the association with the workhouse remained and some people would have been reluctant to ask for free care at these hospitals for this reason.
In 1948 both the voluntary and public hospitals came into the ownership of the National Health Service and were put under the management of local hospital management committees under the Liverpool Regional Health Board. A reorganisation of the National Health Service in 1974 saw Liverpool hospitals come under district health authorities as part of the Liverpool Area Health Authority, in turn part of the Mersey Regional Health Authority. Between 1991 and 1995 Liverpool hospitals became independent NHS trusts.
Workhouse records among the hospital records
Because some of Liverpool's hospitals started life as workhouses and the changeover from workhouse to hospital was a gradual one, researchers should be aware that some of the hospital collections contain records of people who were admitted as workhouse inmates rather than hospital patients. In particular the records of Sefton General (formerly Toxteth Park Workhouse/Smithdown Road Institution, ref. 614 SEF), Mill Road (ref. 614 MIL) and Newsham General (formerly Belmont, ref. 614 NGN) hospitals hold workhouse admission/discharge records.
Hospitals that we hold records for
Please note that the date range given below is that of the records we hold for each hospital and not necessarily the dates that the hospital existed. Also where no reference number for an NHS trust is given this means there are no closed records and it is therefore not necessary to ask permission from the trust prior to access.
- Alder Hey Children's Hospital (ref: 614 ALD), 1915-1984 (NHS trust: 3)
- Belmont Road Institution/Hospital (ref: 614 NGN), 1909-1950 (NHS trust: 2). See for later, Newsham General Hospital
- Bootle Borough Hospital (ref: 614 BOT), c1898-1900
- Bootle Local Medical and Panel Committee (ref: M614 BOO), 1922-1948
- Broadgreen Hospital (ref: 614 BRO), 1931-1989 (NHS trust: 2)
- David Lewis Northern Hospital (ref: 614 NOR), 1833-1975 (NHS trust: 2)
- Fazakerley Hospital (ref: 614 FAZ), 1902-1974 (NHS trust: 6)
- Fazakerley Sanatorium (ref: 614 FAZ), 1920-c1950 (NHS trust: 6)
- Fleetwood Road Hospital (ref: M614 FLT), 1949-1974
- Frances Trees’ nursing oral history project (ref: 614 TRE), c1900-1993 (NHS trust: 2)
- Greaves Hall Hospital (ref: M614 GRE), 1914-1974 (NHS trust: 4)
- Hesketh Park Hospital (ref: M614 HES), 1958
- Home for Incurables (ref: 614 PRI), 1875-1885 (NHS trust: 2). See for later, Liverpool Home for Incurables/ Home for Invalid Women/ Princes Park Hospital
- Home for Invalid Women (ref: 614 PRI), 1948-1969 (NHS trust: 2). See also, Home for Incurables, Liverpool Home for Incurables, Princes Park Hospital
- Liverpool Area Health Authority (ref: 614 AHA), 1844-1986
- Liverpool City Sanatorium for Tuberculosis (ref: 614 LCS), 1919
- Liverpool Dental Hospital (ref: 614 DEN), 1879-1970 (NHS trust: 2)
- Liverpool Ear, Nose and Throat Infirmary (ref: 614 EAR), 1820-1978 (NHS trust: 2)
- Liverpool Hahnemann Hospital and Homoeopathic Dispensaries (ref: 614 HAH), 1871-1976 (NHS trust: 2)
- Liverpool Home for Incurables (ref: 614 PRI), 1885-1948 (NHS trust: 2). See also, Home for Incurables, Home for Invalid Women, Princes Park Hospital
- Liverpool Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest (ref: 614 SOU), 1864-1928 (NHS trust: 2)
- Liverpool Infirmary for Children (ref: 614 CHI), 1857-1920 (NHS trust: 3). See for later, Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital
- Liverpool Maternity Hospital (ref: 614 MAT), 1826-1995 (NHS trust: 1)
- Liverpool Royal Infirmary (ref: 614 INF), 1749-1983 (NHS trust: 2)
- Liverpool Stanley Hospital (ref: 614 SOU), 1867-1965 (NHS trust: 2)
- Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Crown Street (ref: 614 LWH), 1995-2002 (NHS trust: 1)
- Mary Jones, Matron at Liverpool Royal Infirmary (ref: 614 MAJ), 1908-1971
- Mersey Regional Health Authority (ref: M614 RHA), 1973-1980
- Mill Road Hospital/Maternity Hospital (ref: 614 MIL), 1857-1994 (NHS trust: 1)
- New Hall Hospital (ref: M614 NGL), 1942-1974 (NHS trust: 7)
- Newsham General Hospital (ref: 614 NGN), 1950-1988 (NHS trust: 2). See for earlier, Belmont Road Institution
- North of England Children’s Sanatorium (ref: M614 SAN), 1867-1960
- Nurse training records (ref: 614 NUT), 1950-1975 (NHS trust: 2)
- Nursing administrative records (ref: 614 NUA), 1915-1994 (NHS trust: 2)
- Princes Park Hospital (ref: 614 PRI), 1969-1986 (NHS trust: 2). See for earlier, Home for Incurables/Liverpool Home for Incurables/Home for Invalid Women
- Promenade Hospital (ref: M614 PRO), 1854-1951 (NHS trust: 7)
- Rainhill Asylum/Hospital (ref: M614 RAI), 1851-1981 (an agreement with this NHS Trust means that there is no need to obtain permission for this hospital/asylum only proof of decease of the patient)
- Royal Liverpool Babies Hospital (ref: M614 BAB), 1924-1975
- Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital (ref: 614 CHI), 1920-1990 (NHS trust: 3). See for earlier, Liverpool Children’s Infirmary and Royal Liverpool Country Hospital for Children
- Royal Southern Hospital (ref: 614 SOU), 1841-1980 (NHS trust: 2)
- Sefton General Hospital (ref: 614 SEF), 1950-1986 (NHS trust: 1*/2). See for earlier, Smithdown Road Infirmary
- Smithdown Road Workhouse/Institution/ Infirmary (ref: 614 SEF), 1860-1950 (NHS trust: 1*/2). See for later, Sefton General Hospital
- Southport Borough Council Health Committee (ref: M614 CHS), 1889-1974
- Southport Convalescent Hospital and Sea Bathing Infirmary (ref: M614 PRO), 1854-1951 (NHS trust: 7)
- Southport General Infirmary (ref: M614 SGI), 1870-1948 (NHS trust: 7)
- Sparrow Hall Hospital (ref: 614 FAZ), 1920-1943 (NHS trust: 6)
- St Helen’s Hospital (ref: M614 HEL), 1946
- St Paul’s Eye Hospital (ref: 614 PAU), 1872-1992 (NHS trust: 2)
- Walton Workhouse/Institution/Hospital (ref: M614 WAL), 1898-c1998 (NHS trust: 6)
- Waterloo and District General Hospital (ref: M614 WTL), 1923-1981
- Women’s Hospital, Catharine Street (ref: 614 WOM), 1870-1996 (NHS trust: 1)
1* This trust to be approached for permission to access obstetrics and gynaecological records only.
Types of available records
The types of records that are available vary between collections. Many collections have administrative records including records of medical boards, nursing committees and visiting committees. Some collections also have financial records but these tend to be registers of donors or legacies or papers referring to fundraising efforts rather than series of account books.
Patient records form part of a number of the collections. Categories of patient records include in-patient and more rarely out-patient admission/discharge registers, which are often indexed by name. There are also series of ward and operation registers which are not usually indexed and are therefore less easy to use. The collections contain a number of maternity records. The information available for an individual mother can vary from merely a register entry confirming she was admitted and discharged from the labour ward on particular dates to the existence of a number of records for an individual mother giving details of attendance at ante-natal clinic, an account of the birth and details of her new baby.
There are a smaller number of records relating to mental health patients. The main source is records of Rainhill Hospital but there are some records in other collections, for example registers of patients detained under the Mental Health Acts at Sefton General Hospital.
There are relatively few case notes in the collections. This means that following the progress of an individual though their hospital treatment is a process of referring to a number of admission, ward, operation registers, etc and having the luck that all relevant volumes have survived.
Staff registers are present in a number of collections. Staff records available mainly refer to the nursing rather than medical staff although sometimes details of auxiliary professions such as physiotherapists and domestic staff are recorded. As well as registers of qualified staff there are a number of series of volumes detailing the training of student nurses.
Photographs are available in some of the collections. Group photographs of staff, particularly nurses and nursing events such as prize-givings are common as are photographs of hospital buildings, particularly those taken to show the opening of a new hospital or extension. Scenes taken of patient care and of day to day life within the hospital are also present but are less common.
Finally there are records in the collections that do not fall into any of the above categories. These include correspondence, press cuttings, publications and a few assorted objects.
Accessing hospital records
All the hospital records have been catalogued and their access conditions are stated in the search room catalogues. Some Merseyside Record Office catalogues are not online. Some hospital records are accessible to any accredited Liverpool Record Office user. However those records that contain personal information about people that may still be living (these are usually patient or staff records) are closed for either 75 or 100 years from the last date of the last entry within a volume under the Data Protection Act 1998. This is in order to protect people’s right to privacy of their personal information.
In order to access closed records it is necessary to contact the relevant NHS Trust (listed below) to ask for permission as they are the legal owners of the hospital records that are held by the Liverpool Record Office (researchers wishing to consult records for academic purposes will probably have to come to an agreement with the relevant NHS trust on how they are going to make their research anonymous so no individuals can be identified).
Some NHS trusts, if permission is granted, will then transcribe the necessary information for you, for a fee and so you would deal with them directly and receive the information you are seeking from them.
Other NHS trusts will send you a letter of permission which you will need to bring into the record office. Where it is possible to produce a record for you that gives you the information you require and does not give information about other people (for example case papers of an individual) the record will then be produced for you.
However it is likely that a member of record office staff will need to consult the relevant records for you, rather than you being allowed to look though the records yourself. This is because most records that are closed under the Data Protection Act contain information about many people (for example hospital admission registers) so allowing you to look though the entire volume would breach other people’s right of privacy.
In this case you will be asked to fill in one of three forms as relevant
- If you wish to access information about yourself
- If you wish to access information on behalf of a relative (for example an elderly relative not able to visit the office themselves)
- If you wish to access information on a deceased person
There is a fee payable if Record Office staff consult the records for you and transcribe the information.
NHS Trust addresses
To find the address of the NHS trust with responsibility for the hospital records you wish to consult, please look at the number given under ‘NHS trust’ in the above list.
Legal Services Manager
Liverpool Obstetrics and Gynaecology Services NHS Trust
Liverpool Women's Hospital
This trust transcribes information themselves for researchersChief Executive
Royal Liverpool University and Broadgreen Hospitals NHS Trust
L7 8XPHealth Records Manager
Royal Liverpool Children's NHS Trust
Alder Hey Children's Hospital
This trust transcribes information themselves for researchersAccess to Health Records Manager
Mersey Care NHS Trust
Information Governance Manager
Mersey Care NHS Trust,
Kings Business Park,
L34 1PJAssistant Director of Operations
Caldicott and Data Protection Programme Manager
Aintree Hospital NHS Trust
University Hospital Aintree
This trust transcribes information themselves for researchers
Corporate Records Manager and Data Protection Manager
Southport District General Hospital