The history of medicine: A Scottish perspective
The history of medicine: A Scottish perspective

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

The history of medicine: A Scottish perspective

1 Policies of health: diseases, poverty and hospitals

1.1 Introduction

The ‘welfare state’ and its future are frequently a topic of passionate debate. Its philosophy, best embodied in the expression ‘from the cradle to the grave’, is based on the principle that one of the duties of the state is to care for the well-being of its citizens at each stage of their lives. Health is now recognised, at least in most European countries, as a universal right and many agree that its costs should be met by society as a whole and not just by those who are sick. Furthermore, one of the criteria by which we judge a society is its ability to maintain an environment that is clean and safe. All this, however, is very recent and is the fruit of struggles and controversies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But what happened in earlier times? What did ‘disease’ and ‘health’ mean to communities regularly decimated by epidemics? What measures, if any, were taken? What happened to poor people, dependent on their ability to work, who could not afford the costs involved in falling ill? In this course, I provide an example based at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary to illustrate how changes in medical delivery affected the local population.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus