Bradford Royal Eye and Ear Hospital

The Royal Eye and Ear Hospital was a subscription hospital which treated some of the first wounded soldiers to arrive in Bradford in October 1914. It continued to treat wounded soldiers throughout the war although numbers decreased as other provision was made in the city. It also played an important service in removing foreign objects from the eyes of munitions workers treating at least 5,000 cases during the course of the war.

 

The Bradford Royal Eye and Ear hospital was a subscription hospital in Hallfield Road Bradford. It treated patients with diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat by subscriber’s recommendation. The hospital was in financial difficulties prior to the First World War and had that year launch a special appeal to rectify the matter.

 

WWI

As soon as war was declared the hospital offered the use of 20-30 beds for the treatment of wounded soldiers. It wasn’t long before this offer was taken up on 27th October 1914 29 of the first batch of 50 wounded soldiers arriving in Bradford were taken to the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital. The wounded soldiers had been transferred from the military hospital in Becketts Park, Leeds, the remainder were treated at the Bradford Royal Infirmary. A few more serious cases arrived later in the month and by December over 50 wounded soldiers had been treated. In addition local battalions had sent a large number of recruits with eye and nose cases to them for treatment.

 

The treatment of soldiers reduced the number of beds for civilians but the committee of the time felt that their subscribers would approve of their action especially as a grant from the War Office defrayed the cost of treatment.

 

When St Luke’s Hospital became the Bradford War Hospital in December 1915 the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital became affiliated with it and offered to undertake their eye and throat work. However two of their doctors had joined the forces and another left for private practice making treatment difficult.  They also provided eye treatment – refraction cases – for soldiers in the Bradford Pals Battalions from the Skipton and Ripon camps. In addition they treated a large number of cases of minor accidents amongst munitions workers and helped a number of Belgian refugees.

 

The hospital was offered and accepted the use of the Christ Church Vicarage on Manningham Lane to be used as a home for nursing staff, the house previously used on Hallfield Road had become unpleasantly crowded.

 

By the end of 1916 the military authorities were utilising 25 beds for sick and wounded soldiers. Entertainment was provided by a Ladies Committee with a series of social evenings and concerts. Cases of minor accident from munitions factories continued to come to the hospital and during 1916 and 1917 they removed foreign bodies from the eyes of upwards of 1,200 cases each year. And still the number of civilian patients was not much less than it was before the war.

 

During 1917 the number of beds occupied by wounded soldiers in the hospital decreased due to the additional hospital accommodation available in the City, however, they still treated 120 wounded soldiers.  The military authorities had taken over the eye, ear, nose and throat block of the Abram Peel (Leeds Road) Hospital in July 1917. In addition the hospital also continued to provide treatment to a considerable number of soldiers who were sent to them by the military authorities for special treatment

 

The amount of hospital accommodation for military use was again reduced in 1918 with only 35 wounded soldiers as in patients. However the amount of cases of foreign bodies removed from the eyes of munitions workers increased to 1,921, the treatment of which prevented more serious trouble and facilitated a speedy return to work.

 

After the war

Although supplies had been expensive during the war the hospital received encouraging response to their appeals for money. In 1918 they were able to pay £113 towards the reduction of their bank overdraft. In 1919 the use of the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital for military purposes ceased and the full number of beds was once again available for ordinary patients. However no fewer than 326 war pensioners received treatment in 1919.

 

Sources

 27th October 1914 Bradford Daily Telegraph

30th October 1914 Bradford Daily Telegraph

Bradford Royal Eye and Ear Hospital Annual Reports 1914-1920