Royal Naval Hospital

From Naval History Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search
HM Royal Naval Hospital
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Worldwide
TypeNaval Hospital
Site information
OperatorRoyal Navy
Controlled bySick and Hurt Board
(1740-1806)
Transport Board
(1806-1817)
Victualling Board
(1817-1832)
Board of Admiralty
(1832-1964)
Navy Board (Ministry of Defence)
(1964-1990)
Site history
In use1728-1990
Installation information
Past
commanders
Governor Surgeon

A Royal Naval Hospital (RNH) was a hospital operated by the British Royal Navy for the care and treatment of sick and injured naval personnel.[1] A network of these establishments were situated across the globe to suit British interests. They were part of the Medical Branch.[2]

Royal Naval Hospitals were controlled by the Sick and Hurt Board from 1740 to 1806 then the Transport Board from 1806 to 1817 then the Victualling Board until 1832 and finally the Board of Admiralty and through its Department of the Physician General of the Navy this department oversaw the creation of the Medical Branch of the Royal Navy also called Naval Medical Service until 1917 when its title changed to the Royal Navy Medical Service and retains that name today.

No Royal Naval Hospitals survive in operation, although some have become civilian hospitals.

Early history

Individual surgeons had been appointed to naval vessels since Tudor times.[3] During the seventeenth century, the pressures on practitioners grew, as crews began to be exposed to unfamiliar illnesses on increasingly long sea-voyages. One response, as proposed in 1664, was the provision of hospital ships to accompany the fleet on more distant expeditions. Another was the provision of temporary shore-based hospitals, such as those briefly set up during the Anglo-Dutch Wars in such locations as Ipswich, Rochester, Harwich and Plymouth (the latter being established on a more permanent footing in 1689).[4] By the turn of the century, permanent hospital provision was being contemplated for overseas bases; one was set up in Jamaica by Admiral John Benbow in 1701. More were to follow, both at home and abroad.

From 1653 the Sick and Hurt commissioners held office only during wartime. In peacetime its duties came under the Navy Board. In 1740, the Sick and Hurt Board was created responsible for caring for the sick and wounded seamen. Until the Seven Years War (1755–1763), there was no permanent medical organisation and invalids were put in the care of private medical contractors called medical agents. In 1796 this duty was gradually transferred to the Transport Board. The board assumed responsibility for the care of prisoners of war on 22 December 1799 from the Sick and Hurt Commissioners, and by 1806 the Transport Board had taken over the business of the Sick and Hurt Board which was then abolished.

In 1817 the Transport Board was abolished and its transportation functions were assumed by the Navy Board, the provision of its medical services and medical officers to the Royal Navy passed to the Victualling Board. In 1832 the two remaining boards (the Navy Board and the Victualling Board) were abolished by the new incoming First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir James Graham. Medical services then became the responsibility of the Board of Admiralty who created a new organisation the Department of the Physician General of the Navy. In 1841 the Physician General's department was renamed the Department of the Inspector-General of Naval Hospitals and Fleets until 1843.

In 1844 a new Medical Department of the Navy was established under the control and direction of the Director-General of the Medical Department of the Navy until 1917 when the department was renamed the Department of the Medical Director-General of the Navy under the Medical Director-General of the Navy until 2002.

Administration of Royal Naval Hospitals

The hospitals were usually administered by a governor[5] appointed by the regulatory boards charged with providing medical services to naval personal.

Locations of Royal Naval Hospitals

United Kingdom and Ireland











Overseas

Hospitals were established close to several of the overseas Naval Yards, including:

Indian Ocean


Mediterranean Sea


  • Royal Naval Hospital, Gibraltar — (1741-1922) was located at Gibraltar and subsequently served as naval married quarters); buildings survive having been converted into housing.



North Atlantic Ocean

  • Royal Naval Hospital, Bermuda — (1818-1957) was located in the Western Atlantic on the island of Bermuda, it was opened in 1818 and closed down in 1957


  • Royal Naval Hospital Halifax — (1782-1911) was located in the North Western Atlantic Ocean at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, it opened in 1782 and was rebuilt in 1863, the hospital closed 1911 and was taken over by the Royal Naval College of Canada.



Pacific Ocean




South Atlantic and Africa


West Indies



Other Navy Hospitals

Other naval hospitals were established in other overseas locations, usually in the vicinity of other small naval establishments (e.g. coaling or supply yards) including on Long Island, New York (1779), Newfoundland, St Lucia (1783), Kingston, Ontario (1813–14), Barbados (1815), Fernando Po, Mauritius and Wei-Hai-Wei.

Royal Naval Auxiliary Hospitals

During the Second World War around twenty 'R.N. Auxiliary Hospitals' were established in various locations, at home and abroad, on a temporary basis.[10]

Royal Marine Infirmaries

Royal Marine Infirmaries were established near the divisional headquarters in Chatham, Deal, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Woolwich, along with a separate Royal Marine Artillery Infirmary in Portsmouth.

Greenwich

Greenwich Hospital, which predated all the above, was established on somewhat different grounds, as it cared for retired seamen rather than those on active service. Also called the Royal Hospital for Seamen in Greenwich, it was a home for Greenwich pensioners, established in 1692, and although closed at Greenwich in 1869 still exists as a charity. Its buildings housed the Royal Naval College, Greenwich between 1873 and 1998 and are now open to the public as the Old Royal Naval College.

Footnotes

  1. "Sick And Hurt Board, In-Letters And Orders - National Maritime Museum". collections.rmg.co.uk. Royal Museums Greenwich. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  2. Wickenden, Jane (6 September 2013). "The Royal Naval Medical Service from the earliest times to 1918 - British Naval History, Historic Collections Librarian, Institute of Naval Medicine, Alverstoke, Gosport". British Naval History. British Naval History, 6 Sep, 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  3. "British Naval History article".
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet: Architecture and engineering of the Royal Navy's bases, 1700-1914. Swindon: English Heritage. p. 24.
  5. Marshall, John (Nov 18, 2010). Royal Naval Biography: Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-Officers, Superannuated Rear-Admirals, Retired-Captains, Post-Captains, and Commanders. Cambridge University Press. p. 173. ISBN 9781108022668.
  6. "Naval documents database".
  7. "RCAHMS".
  8. The Madras Tercentenary Commemorative Volume. Chennai, India: Asian Education Services. 1994.
  9. "Navy Band website".
  10. See the Navy List, various issues, 1939-45.

Bibliography

  1. Coad, Jonathan (2013). Support for the Fleet: Architecture and engineering of the Royal Navy's bases, 1700-1914. Swindon: English Heritage.
  2. Librarian, Institute of Naval Medicine, Alverstoke, Gosport". British Naval History. British Naval History, 6 Sep, 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  3. Marshall, John (Nov 18, 2010). Royal Naval Biography: Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-Officers, Superannuated Rear-Admirals, Retired-Captains, Post-Captains, and Commanders. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108022668.
  4. "Sick And Hurt Board, In-Letters And Orders - National Maritime Museum". collections.rmg.co.uk. Royal Museums Greenwich. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  5. The Madras Tercentenary Commemorative Volume. Chennai, India: Asian Education Services. 1994.
  6. Wickenden, Jane (6 September 2013). "The Royal Naval Medical Service from the earliest times to 1918 - British Naval History, Historic Collections.