Medical Records Revived:
Case Note Catalogues at
Lothian Health Services Archive

Medical records revived: Case Note Catalogues at Lothian Health Services Archive

Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA) is the archive of NHS Lothian, based in the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh. The Archive collects evidence of the history of healthcare in Edinburgh and the Lothians, from records of how Edinburgh’s NHS hospitals were founded and managed to privately donated collections gifted by individuals and organisations shaping the region’s medical history. LHSA records date from 1594 to the present day.

Royal Infirmary Edinburgh Exterior

Patient records are an invaluable way of bringing Edinburgh’s historic breakthroughs in medical treatment and care to light. As well as bound accounts of treatment (dating back to the eighteenth century), LHSA holds over one million twentieth-century patient case notes in folders in one of the largest medical archives in the UK. The majority of these cases (although by no means all) were written in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. They cover both specific medical specialisms (from neurosurgery, respiratory disease and psychiatric care to orthopaedics and obstetrics) and more general medicine and surgery.

In 2012, LHSA developed a methodology for cataloguing these modern archival case notes. Catalogues describe individual cases for researchers whilst protecting the privacy of patients through careful redaction of potentially identifying details. This resource acts as a gateway to these anonymised case note catalogues. It will guide you in using the catalogues for the first time, give context to key people, subjects and places, and will provide information for legitimate researchers on applying to access the confidential documents that they describe. At present, only finding aids for neurosurgical case notes can be accessed, but new catalogues will be added as they are completed.

The support of the Wellcome Trust is gratefully acknowledged. Research Resources funding has enabled the ongoing cataloguing of Norman Dott’s neurosurgical case notes and those of the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Royal Victoria Dispensary for Diseases of the Chest, the Regional Hospital National X-ray Campaign and Southfield Sanitorium. Find out more about these projects here.

Norman Dott Case Notes