Liverpool Royal Infirmary, 1935



The History of Liverpool Psychiatry

Dr Ben Green, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, University of Liverpool.

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There are patchy early records of care in the 18th Century, involving the enlightened Quaker physician, Currie, who stimulated the development of the first dedicated asylum for the insane in Liverpool.

The 19th Century saw the use of county asylums, the central Liverpool hospitals and the workhouse as the main providers of psychiatric care.

For most of the 20th century, the Liverpool Royal Infirmary was the main acute hospital in Liverpool with a casualty. Referrals of psychiatry patients for inpatient care went to Rainhill Hospital, once supposed to be the largest mental asylum in the world with well over one thousand patients.Rainhill was one of the Lancashire county asylums.

In the latter part of the 20th century the Liverpool Royal Infirmary was replaced by the more functional, but far less appealing concrete Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Psychiatry had an acute presence here on wards 2X (old age psychiatry) and 2Y (adult psychiatry). The RLUH also had a psychiatry day hospital, an psychiatry outpatients department and a suite of consultant offices, all on the second floor and adjoining the University teaching area. Of the clinical base in the Royal only liaison psychiatry remained in 2000; this was in a perilous and small eyrie on the tenth floor.

Almost contemporary with Rainhill Hospital was Winwick, a second county asylum for Lancashire. Winwick Hospital catered to Warrington, Runcorn and what is now North Cheshire.

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