In the second part of our two look at the massive changes taking place with Glasgow's health service STEWART WARD tells the stories of the Victoria and Western Infirmaries.


LANGSIDE was the location chosen for the construction of the Victoria Infirmary, and years later for the nearby Mansionhouse Unit.

Their history features some notable characters, and shows an important contribution to healthcare in Glasgow.

The Victoria Infirmary was the product of widespread health issues in the city. The population was growing rapidly, child death rates were high and adults had a low life expectancy.

It was Dr Ebenezer Duncan, president of the Glasgow Southern Medical Society, whose backing was most crucial in supporting the plans to supply Glasgow with a new hospital, to help alleviate the problems being faced.

Campbell Douglas & Sellars won the right to design the infirmary, but getting funding proved a more difficult task. Around five years later a solution was finally found.

Queen Victoria was told the hospital would be named in her honour, and in return, gave it the royal backing.

Matters were made much easier after that, and, funded entirely by donations, the Victoria Infirmary finally opened as a voluntary hospital on Valentine's Day 1890.

In 1906 there were a total of 260 beds, with further construction work 20 years later adding 120 more. A paying patient's block was added by 1935..

In 1929 the Victoria opened the first country auxiliary hospital, now called Philipshill hospital.

The launch of the NHS had major implications for healthcare, and Philipshill moved into its control.

The Vicky - as it is affectionately known - underwent many changes too, and in addition became a teaching hospital soon after. There were some more structural changes, but the biggest addition came separately in the following decade.

In 1971 the Victoria Geriatric Unit was opened. It later changed its name to the Mansionhouse unit.

The Victoria Infirmary has an operational bed capacity of around 370, and it includes a library, lecture theatre, seminar rooms and an education centre.

A modernisation process began in 2009, when the New Victoria Hospital was opened, at a cost of £100 million.

Located on Grange Road, it is expected to deal with 400,000 people each year, and has gradually taken over services from the Vicky.

A&E at the Victoria Infirmary will be closed on May 16.

Western Infirmary

THE first foundation stone of the Western Infirmary was laid with full masonic honours in August 1871, and it opened just three years later.

It sits adjacent to Glasgow University with the two institutions having a close relationship. It was built to serve the public, but also to act as a teaching hospital. The work was part of a strategy to move the packed university away from the High Street to Gilmorehill.

With the hospital's ranks bolstered by hundreds of Glasgow students, by 1890 - 16 years after opening - its surgeons had already conducted 877 operations. And despite starting with just 150 beds, by the early 20th century that figure had grown to an impressive total of 630.

His appointment at the time was reported as "gratifying evidence of the re-established harmony between the managers and the staff of the infirmary," suggesting there had been some tension beforehand.

The Gardiner Institute of Medicine was opened in 1936, named after the family contributing almost £25,000 to its foundation. .

When it was decided that the maintenance costs of the original buildings of the Western had become unsustainable, a two phase rebuilding programme was authorised in 1964/65. Phase I, providing 256-beds, was completed in 1974, but phase II was indefinitely postponed the next year.

This was partly due to the completion of Gartnavel General, which had been built with 576 beds.

Over the 20th century the Western moved between the control of numerous other trusts and boards.

It ended the period with the North Glasgow University NHS Trust, which included the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Gartnavel General, the Dental Hospital, and Stobhill Hospital. It now operates under NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

A landmark moment on the infirmary's timeline began in 2005, when a campaign was launched to protect a hospital chapel at the heart of the Western Infirmary from being destroyed or relocated when the building closed.

At present, it remains unclear what exactly the future will be for the chapel, although NHS Greater Glasgow pledged to relocate as much as possible. The room is as large as an equivalent in a full size church.

The Western Infirmary is where most of the acute emergency and receiving functions are located for the west of the city, dealing with cases of intensive care, emergency surgery and acute stroke, amongst other responsibilities. It is also the site of the outpatient West Glasgow Maternity Care Centre.

Transfers to the South Glasgow University Hospital began on April 26, and will end with the closure of A&E by May 30.

Some services will remain in action until transfer to the Yorkhill site in October, including the outpatient department, the maternity unit, GP out of hours and a minor injuries unit.

Glasgow University has purchased all 14-acres of the site, having agreed the deal with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in February 2013. The Campus Development Framework was approved by Glasgow City Council last year, after a public consultation was carried out.