UK Lock Hospitals
Lock Hospitals had to wage a battle with popular prejudice which was quite unlike that which the other specialist hospitals had to fight. Not only was the malady they dealt with looked upon as practically incapable of cure, but bigots considered it unworthy of cure; it was sin's just punishment of outraged nature, when it was not looked upon as a special act of the divine wrath.
For this reason, syphilitic patients were regularly refused admission to general hospitals on religious grounds, being considered as much social outcasts as the lepers of old, from whom, their name is supposed to be derived.
The connection is both historical and etymological, according to Mr. Godfrey Hamilton (Secretary of the National Hospital for Paralysed and Epileptic) who, some years ago, published an interesting series of articles in the Hospital Gazette on the subject. "In a large number of cases", he writes, "the abolition of the Lazar House was delayed by the advent of venereal disease, which took place in this Country coincidentally with the decline of leprosy, so the houses being no longer required for lepers were utilised for patients suffering from these other loathsome diseases. Notable examples of this are the Lazar houses which were founded outside the City of London - at Southwark, Mile End, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, etc. As these buildings were converted to their new use, they seem to have become known as lock-houses or lock hospitals, and at the present day practically all hospitals, it might be said throughout the whole world, which are devoted to the treatment of social diseases are designated by that term .... but almost all writers claim that the first hospital so designated was the Lock Lazar House outside St George's Gate".
Page updated March 12, 2008
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