How were poor crippled children treated in England during the late 19th and early 20th centuries before the advent of free healthcare through the NHS and the Welfare State?
A group of Northampton children – all very keen on medical history – believe that if medical history is to be truly relevant it must live. So one day, while happening to sit in an outpatient clinic they decided to answer the above question using the extensive historical archive held at Northampton General Hospital. They give their answers with a short film (20 mins, link at end of post).
Image 1: CC BY Credit: Science Museum, London
The Northampton Crippled Children’s Fund (NCCF, 1893-1925) provided medical care for ‘poor crippled children in straightened circumstances under 17 years of age’ initially in Northampton and eventually county-wide. It also gave long term dietary supplementation and summer seaside holidays. It had wide community support. In its final year before the opening of the Manfield Orthopaedic Hospital it treated 3000 children. Crippled Children’s Funds were widespread in the UK before the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) but there are few surviving records and research has been limited in this area.
My day job is as a consultant community paediatrician. This film is a way of introducing medical history to my patients, keeping my day job interesting and giving something back to the community where I work.
The children involved in the film are my patients, their siblings and members of Theze Guyz Theatre Company, Northampton. Together, working with healthcare professionals and historians they relate, recreate and assess the work of the Northampton Crippled Children’s Fund within its historical context. The film includes full medical and dietetic reconstructions, and some cartoons. You can view it using the following link:
The film credits acknowledge the funders who made this film happen.
The film was written and directed by Professor Andrew N Williams PhD FRHistS consultant community paediatrician and curator of Archive, Northampton General Hospital.