Glasgow Royal Infirmary

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”Glasgow Infirmary” redirects here; not to be confused with the former Glasgow Victoria Infirmary.

Glasgow Royal Infirmary
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
AM RoyalInfirmary CharlesStreet.JPG
The Royal Infirmary's west-facing Centre Block, opened in 1914.
Glasgow Royal Infirmary is located in Glasgow council area
Glasgow Royal Infirmary
Location within Glasgow
Location Castle St, Glasgow, Scotland
Care system NHS Scotland
Hospital type Teaching
Affiliated university University of Glasgow
Emergency department Yes
Beds 1077[1]
Speciality Cardiology, Plastic Surgery
Founded 1794
Rebuilt (I) 1909-1924
Rebuilt (II) 1974-82
Website Official Website
Lists Hospitals in Scotland
Other links List of hospitals in Scotland

The Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI) is a large teaching hospital, operated by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde,[2][3] With a capacity of around 1000 beds, the hospital campus covers an area of around 8 hectares (20 acres), situated on the north-eastern edge of the city centre of Glasgow, Scotland.


Founding of the infirmary

Etching of a view of the infirmary by James Fittler in Scotia Depicta, published 1804
The New Buildings (post-1974) at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, viewed from the Necropolis. The Queen Elizabeth Building, completed in 1981, is in the foreground. The newer Princess Royal Maternity Block, opened in 2001, is just behind and to the right. The University Teaching Block is on the left hand side, adjoining the 1981 building.

A Royal Charter was obtained in 1791 granting the Crown-owned land to the hospital. The infirmary was built beside Glasgow Cathedral on land that held the ruins of the Bishop's Castle, which dated from at least the 13th century but had been allowed to fall into disrepair. George Jardine, Professor of Logic, was appointed the first manager in January 1793.[4]

Designed by Robert and James Adam, the original Royal Infirmary building was opened in December 1794.[4] The original Adams building had five floors (one underground) holding eight wards (giving the hospital just over a hundred beds) and a circular operating room on the fourth floor with a glazed dome ceiling. After a number of additional buildings were added, the first in 1816, a specialist fever block in 1829 and a surgical block in 1860.[5]

New building

The original Adams building was replaced with a new building designed by James Miller and opened by King George V in July 1914.[6] In 1926, the surgical block in which Joseph Lister had worked was also torn down for replacement.[7]

Post-war redevelopment

Following the amalgamation of the old St. Mungo's College of Medicine into the University of Glasgow Medical School in 1947, the old College buildings on Castle Street officially became part of the hospital campus. In 1948 the hospital became part of NHS Scotland.[8]

Visions of a brand new hospital on the site had been part of the Bruce Report as early as the late 1940s, but by 1974, the Greater Glasgow Health Board had formally begun plans for the replacement of the 1914 Miller buildings with a brand new building. This would be located on the north of the hospital site overlooking Alexandra Parade and the M8 motorway. The new building was designed by Sir Basil Spence in a "modular" fashion, where new blocks could be easily added in phases as funding allowed. In the end, only the first phase of Spence's original design was implemented and was finally completed around 1982. It also incorporated new accommodation for the hospital's teaching departments, thus replacing the old St. Mungo's College buildings. The new complex was linked to the Surgical Block of the original Royal Infirmary building at basement level via a link corridor, with a further pedestrian entrance at lower basement level on Wishart Street (adjacent to the Necropolis). The new facility was officially named the "Queen Elizabeth Building" by the Queen on a visit in July 1986.[9] Since 1982 the pre-1915 buildings of the Infirmary have been protected as a category B listed building.[10]

The south face of the Medical Block of the Glasgow Royal as seen from High Street

After the closure of the Rutherglen Maternity Hospital and the Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital, a new maternity block was added to the New Building; the Princess Royal Maternity building opened in 2001.[11] Following the closure of Canniesburn Hospital, the Jubilee Building was opened, adding purpose-built Accident & Emergency facilities and a plastic surgery unit, in November 2002.[12]

Following the transfer of the Golden Jubilee Hospital (formerly the infamous HCI Hospital) in Clydebank to public ownership, much of the cardiology specialism was moved from GRI to the newer facility.[13]

Notable staff and research

The rear of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary's 1914 Centre Block in the background with the Estates building in the foreground, viewed from the Glasgow Necropolis

In 1856, Joseph Lister became an assistant surgeon at the Infirmary and a professor of surgery in 1860. Running the new surgery block, Lister noted that about half of his patients died from sepsis. Lister experimented to find ways to prevent sepsis. This experimentation lead to using carbolic acid to clean instruments; he is now considered the "father of modern surgery".[14]

In 1875, a student of Lister, William Macewen joined the Infirmary surgery as an assistant surgeon, becoming a full surgeon in 1877. While at the Infirmary he introduced the practice of doctors wearing sterilisable white coats and pioneered operations on the brain for tumours, abscesses and trauma.[15]

In 1896, John Macintyre, Medical Electrician at the Infirmary, opened one of the first radiological departments in the world.[16]

In 1908, one of MacEwen's students James Pringle, developed the Pringle manoeuvre which is used to control bleeding during liver surgery.[17]

In the 1950s Professor Ian Donald, working in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, was one of the pioneers of diagnostic ultrasound.[18]


  1. ^ "NHSGGC Job Description". NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2010. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Records of Glasgow Royal Infirmary". NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Board Archive. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  3. ^ "Glasgow Royal Infirmary". Dr Foster. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  4. ^ a b "On This Day: 2nd of January". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  5. ^ Aird, Andrew (1894). "Glimpses of Old Glasgow". Aird & Coghill.
  6. ^ "On This Day: 7th of July". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Demolition of Lister Ward, 1926". The Glasgow Storey. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Scotland in 1948". NHS Scotland. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Queen Elizabeth Building". Women of Scotland. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Royal Infirmary, Listed Building Report". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  11. ^ "New maternity ward opens at Glasgow Royal Infirmary". NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Jubilee Building". NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Golden Jubilee National Hospital: Adult Cardiac Surgery, Congenital Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery". Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery in Great Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  14. ^ Pitt, Dennis; Aubin, Jean-Michel (2012-10-01). "Joseph Lister: father of modern surgery". Canadian Journal of Surgery. 55 (5): E8–E9. doi:10.1503/cjs.007112. ISSN 0008-428X. PMC 3468637. PMID 22992425.
  15. ^ "Sir William Macewen". The Glasgow Story. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  16. ^ "John Macintyre". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  17. ^ Miln DC (1963). "James Hogarth Pringle – surgeon extraordinary" (PDF). Proceedings of the Scottish Society for the History of Medicine: 30–37.
  18. ^ "Donald, Ian". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40066. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Further reading

  • Blakemore, Colin; Jenneth, Sheila (2001). The Oxford Companion to the Body. Oxford University. ISBN 0-19-852403-X.
  • Foreman, Carol (2003). Lost Glasgow. Birlinn. ISBN 1-84158-278-6.
  • Jenkinson, Jacqueline (1994). The Royal: The History of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 1794-1994 Bicentenary Committee on behalf of Glasgow Royal Infirmary NHS Trust ISBN 978-0852614334
  • Pittock, Murray G. H. (2003). A New History of Scotland. Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-2786-0.
  • Williams, David (1999). The Glasgow Guide. Birlinn. ISBN 0-86241-840-2

External links

  • Engraving of Glasgow Infirmary by James Fittler in the digitised copy of Scotia Depicta, or the antiquities, castles, public buildings, noblemen and gentlemen's seats, cities, towns and picturesque scenery of Scotland, 1804 at National Library of Scotland

Coordinates: 55°51′52.06″N 4°14′3.04″W / 55.8644611°N 4.2341778°W / 55.8644611; -4.2341778

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