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Public health

Legislation

The Public Health Act 1848 received royal assent

The Public Health Act 1848 received royal assent following extensive debate on the poor sanitary conditions in Britain and the publication of Edwin Chadwick’s Report on the sanitary conditions o

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Event

The General Board of Health issued a statement on the duties of ‘officers of health’ in 1851

The General Board of Health issued a statement on the duties and responsibilities of local officers of health (appointed by local boards of health).  These duties included giving instructions and

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Legislation

The United Kingdom Vaccination Act 1853 made vaccination against smallpox compulsory

The Vaccination Act 1853 made it compulsory for all children born after 1 August 1853 to be vaccinated against smallpox during their first three months of life.

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Event

In 1854, report author Edwin Chadwick was forced to resign as a commissioner on the General Board of Health

Edwin Chadwick, author of the 1842 report on the sanitary conditions of the labouring population of Great Britain, and a key proponent of sanitary reform, was forced to resign from his position on the

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Event

In 1854 John Snow confirmed that cholera was spread by contaminated water in Soho

John Snow, an anaesthetist, speculated that cholera was spread by contaminated water – an idea which was not accepted by his peers or local authorities.

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Legislation

The Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act 1855 received royal assent

The Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act 1855 required local authorities to employ sanitary inspectors and gave local authorities powers to enter properties containing ‘nuisances’

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Event

Florence Nightingale returned from the Crimean War and began to promote her ideas on sanitary nursing

Florence Nightingale rose to fame for her nursing of army patients during the Crimean War.

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Legislation

Public Health Act 1858

The Public Health Act 1858 replaced the Public Health Act 1848 and abolished the General Board of Health.

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Legislation

The Contagious Diseases Act was introduced in 1864

The Contagious Diseases Act was first passed in 1864, and extended in 1866 and 1869 before finally being repealed in 1886.

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Legislation

The Sanitary Act 1866 received royal assent

The Sanitary Act 1866 compelled local areas to take responsibility for ensuring sewerage systems were in place, overcrowding in residences became illegal and local authorities were compelled (rather t

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Legislation

The Metropolitan Poor Act 1867

Those in workhouses were increasingly elderly and often chronically sick. Infirmary wings developed, often with poor standards of nursing and medical supervision.

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Legislation

Local Government Board Act 1871 received royal assent

The Local Government Board Act 1871 established the Local Government Board, which took over the administration of the Poor Law (from the Poor Law Board) and the public health work of the medical depar

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Event

Public health became recognised as a separate discipline of medicine from 1871

In 1871, Trinity College Dublin began offering the Diploma in Public Health. The programme was designed to improve the training for medical officers of health.

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Legislation

The Public Health Act 1872 received royal assent

The Public Health Act 1872 established sanitary authorities in both urban and rural areas. These were to provide public health services and appoint medical officers of health (Brown, 2008).

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Legislation

Public Health Act 1875 received royal assent

The Public Health Act 1875 was largely seen as a mechanism for consolidating all previous public health acts.

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Event

In 1876, Robert Koch proved that bacteria could cause disease

Building on the germ theories of Louis Pasteur, the German doctor Robert Koch developed new methodology to test whether a particular micro-organism (Bacillus anthracis) was the cause of anthrax.

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Legislation

The Diseases Prevention (metropolis) Act 1883 received royal assent

The Diseases Prevention (metropolis) Act 1883 gave the Metropolitan Asylums Board (MAB) additional powers in relation to the isolation and treatment of people suffering from infectious diseases.

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Legislation

The Medical Relief (disqualification removal) Act was passed, removing the link between pauperism and medical aid in 1885

The Medical Relief (Disqualification Removal) Act allowed citizens to receive medical attention without facing the stigmatism of pauperism and without losing the right to vote.

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Legislation

The Infectious Disease Notification Act received royal assent on 30 August 1889

The act applied to London districts and urban, rural or port sanitary districts. The act introduced compulsory notification of infectious diseases.

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Legislation

The Public Health (London) Act 1891 received royal assent

The Public Health (London) Act 1891 consolidated all previous legislative provisions relating to the removal of nuisances, sanitary measures and public health in London.

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