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Feb 2024
John Harrison – Chorley Dispensary and its Doctors.
Tue 13th Feb 2024

John reminded us that the National Health service that most of us have grown up with only existed since 5th July 1948. The opening statement in the NHS document bill states:
It will provide you with all medical, dental, and nursing care. Everyone - rich or poor, man, woman or child-can use it or any part of it. There are no charges, except for a few special items. There are no insurance qualifications. But it is not a "charity". You are all paying for it, mainly as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in time of illness.

John Harrison.

The statement (not a charity) is the key as prior to this health care would be either paid for or via a charity dispensary. There was a meeting in Chorley Town Hall on the 1st Jan 1828 to establish a public dispensary in the town. It was founded on 1st July 1828.

National Health Service 1948

Dispensary & Parson's Brow in 1846.

Parson's Brow from Market St.

Looking down Parson's Brow.
It was located on Parson’s brow off Market St. and medical care would be in the home and various medical practitioners were nominated. One was John Pollard who was also treasurer to the Chorley Gaslight Company. He was also a churchwarden and his name is commemorated on a stone sundial at St Laurence's Church over the porch on the nave wall. The inscription reads:
(John Pollard and Robert Topping were churchwardens in 1824)

St Laurence's, Chorley Parish Church.

John Pollard and Robert Topping were churchwardens in 1824
Lancashire Dispensaries founded pre 1828
Manchester Royal Infirmary and Dispensary 1752
Liverpool Dispensary 1778.
Lancaster Infirmary and Dispensary 1781.
Ormskirk Dispensary 1797.
Wigan Dispensary 1798
Preston Dispensary 1809.
Bolton Infirmary and Dispensary 1814.
Wavertree, Childwell and Allerton Dispensary 1819.
Chorlton, Rusholme and Moss Side Dispensary 1826.
Southport Infirmary and local Dispensary 1827
Ardwick and Ancoats Hospital and Dispensary 1828.
Salford, and Pendleton Royal Hospital and Dispensary 1828.
Funding was by charitable donations from various sources. There was even a Chorley Dispensary Ball in 1844.
Operating costs for the 1837-38 year were £133 which included 3 shillings for leeches.
Robinson’s Directory of 1835 described the Dispensary as an “excellent charity”.
During 1845, 1542 patients were admitted of which 1315 (85%) were cured and 71 (5%) died. The population of Chorley was increasing rapidly and when Cholera broke out in 1845 the Preston Chronicle said the “mortality has been very considerable.” No exact figures were produced but the symptoms were described as “Killed quickly and nastily by sudden dehydration - shrivelled like raisins with blackened extremities .. pouring watery fluid from their bowel.”

The original Rawcliffe Hospital on Gillibrand St.
There was a considerable re-organisation in the town during the 1860s to 1890s and the founding of the Rawcliffe Hospital. That would be part 2 at a future date.

Thanks to John for a fascinating report on the medical advances to protect the population.
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