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2015 : Look back on a century of innovation

A special event was been held to mark the centenary of one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings .

When opened in 1915, the Glasgow Royal Infirmary’s (GRI) medical block, formally known as the Queen Victoria Jubilee block, was in the forefront of hospital design with stress being laid upon minimising noise and the importance of cleanliness.

The original Royal Infirmary building was opened in December 1794 on the ruins of the Bishop’s Castle which dated from at least the 13th century. It was a huge achievement of the time, being the first permanent facility offering emergency care to the city.

When first opened, the hospital, designed by Robert Adam, had just 136 beds. The GRI is now a large teaching hospital with more than 1,000 beds, a range of local and national services including one of the busiest emergency departments in Scotland.

By the 1890s it was felt that there was an urgent need to replace the old infirmary buildings due to a lack of bed spaces and outdated operating facilities.

The building comprises of 10 medical wards, housing 171 beds.

The Glasgow Royal Infirmary is a facility that has played a central role in not only caring for the sick, but has revolutionised healthcare around the world. Joseph Lister pioneered antiseptic surgery while at the GRI, it was the first hospital in the world to have systematic training courses for nurses and the first hospital known to have an X-ray unit.

The GRI has provided treatment for people across the west of Scotland for more than two centuries. During that time,  some remarkable people have been at work in its wards

  • Lord Joseph Lister, the father of modern surgery, introduced his antiseptic methods in the hospital’s wards and theatres in the 1860s.
  • The world’s first organised training course for nurses was introduced by Sir William McEwan and the matron in 1893.
  • In 1896 John Macintyre established the world’s first X-ray unit at the hospital
  • The UK’s first specialist burns unit was opened in the hospital in the 1920s.
  • James McCune Smith, the first African American to hold a medical degree, trained here. This was while he studied at the University of Glasgow after being denied admission to New York universities due to racial discrimination.

NHS Services at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary today