Paying the pre-NHS Maternity Hospital

You may well know the excellent ‘Perceptions of Pregnancy’ historical research network. If you don’t, check them out. The network was the legacy of a wonderful conference in 2014, at which I was lucky enough to speak. Earlier this month the organisers Jennifer Evans and Ciara Meehan signed a book contract with Palgrave Macmillan to edit a collection of essays, each of which began its life as a paper at the conference. The working title for my chapter is ‘The Birth of the Pregnant Patient-Consumer? Payment, Paternalism and Maternity Hospitals in Early Twentieth-Century England’. I blogged for the network’s website with something of a taster of my contribution.

Perceptions of Pregnancy

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This week’s post is contributed by George Campbell Gosling and examines the maternity provision before the NHS.

‘Delete the word “poor”.’[1] With this instruction in 1931, Liverpool Maternity Hospital’s Objects of the Institution were rewritten and its mission recast as providing hospital births to women of all classes. In doing so an answer was formally given to a question asked by the city’s Liberal Review nearly half a century before, back in 1882.

Campaigning against poor standards at Myrtle Street Lying-in-Hospital (as the Maternity Hospital was then known), the institution was described as ‘little habitable’, especially when ‘intended for the sick; and still more especially when the sick belong to the…

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