A photograph of the Out-patients dispensary waiting room at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, c 1914. The first out-patients dispensary had opened at the Royal Infirmary opened in 1835. The physicians would diagnose patients and prescribe medicines from the infirmary's own stocks.
The National Insurance Act of 1911 introduced medical insurance for many British workers. The legislation had a severe effect on the finances of voluntary hospitals, which had previously received much of their income from employers and workers' organisations but were less likely to continue when it became compulsory to contribute to the National Insurance scheme. In 1913, when the Act came into effect, the Royal required that any insured worker had to attend their General Practitioner before visiting the dispensary. The dispensary also offered treatment only on first attendance to insured patients, and would not take responsibility for following up the case. Attendances at the dispensary, which had amounted to 78,762 patients in 1912, fell to 48,524 in 1913.
Reference: RCPSG 28/65
Reproduced with the permission of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
dispensaries, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, National Insurance Act, 1911, nurses, out-patients departments, Out-patients dispensary, physicians, voluntary hospitals