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These very useful institutions are so numerous that even the names of all of them would be collected with some difficulty. When dispensaries were first promoted, there were wanting some medical charitable establishments between the hospital and the poor-house, where medical assistance could be obtained in cases that did not require confinement or absence from employment, or where the patient has sufficient accommodation at home. By this system the necessity of removal is avoided, as well as the expense of maintaining houses, nurses, &c., for the patients; and the sick themselves have the comfort of being at their own homes, surrounded by their families or friends. "By the report in 1796," said Dr. Lettsom, "respecting the General Dispensary, it appeared that 125,316 poor persons had received medical assistance either at their own habitations, or at the Dispensary in Aldersgate street. A plan so peculiarly useful was instituted in different parts of the metropolis; and at the present time, (this was in 1801) as many have been established to afford relief to about 50,000 poor persons annually; one third of whom at least are attended at their own habitations : a mode of relief which keeps the branches of the family from being separated, &c. By this mode of conveying relief to the bosoms and houses of the poor, the expense is trivial indeed; as one guinea, which is an annual subscription of a governor, affords the means of relief to at least ten patients! Hence 50,000 patients are annually relieved for 5,000l., a sum not exceeding one third of the revenue of a single hospital in London, which relieves scarcely 6,000 patients a year!"

Amongst the Dispensaries are:--

The General Dispensary, Aldersgate street, established in 1770, the first that was instituted in London.

The Bloomsbury Dispensary, 62, Great Russel street, 1801.

The Charitable Fund and Dispensary, No.8 Lilypot lane, which superadds to the benefit of medicine and advice, that of pecuniary assistance.

The Eastern Dispensaries, Alie street, Whitechapel, 1782.

The London Electrical Dispensary, City Road, established in 1793, to administer electricity in all complaints where its application may be useful.

The Royal Infirmary for the Eye, Nassau street, instituted in 1808, under Royal

Patronage, on the representation of Mr. Wathen Phipps, the eminent oculist.

The London Infirmary for the Eye, Charterhouse square, 1808.

The Finsbury Dispensary, St. John's Square, 1780.

The New Finsbury and Central Dispensary, West Smithfield, 1786.

The London Dispensary, Artillery street, 1777.

The St. Mary-le-Bone Dispensary, 17, Welbeck street, 1785.

The Public Dispensary, Carey street, 1783?.

The Surrey Dispensary, Union street, 1777.

The Universal Medical Institution, Tower Hamlets, 1792. It affords the additional relief of cold, warm, and vapour baths; and relief in cases of suspended animation.

The Westminster General Dispensary, Gerrard street, 1774, and the Western Dispensary, Charles street, 1789.

The New Rupture Society, 1796; and the City Truss Society for the relief of the ruptured poor, Grocer's Hall court, Poultry. 1807.

Besides these there are about a dozen Vaccine Dispensaries in different parts of the Metropolis. When Parliament was considering the proposed grant to Doctor Jenner, and the subject of vaccination, the latter was referred to the Royal College of Physicians; and their report was highly favourable to the practice. They stated that 164,381 had been vaccinated, and that out of those,
24, or 1 in 6,849 had badly inflamed arms;
66, or 1 in 2,477, afterwards had eruptions,
56, or 1 in 2,917 had since had the small pox.

Had the same number of persons, it was calculated, caught the casual small pox, on the fairest average 27,471 would have died; 72,417 would have been left diseased, or mained.


Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819