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Diseases Prevention (Metropolis) Act 1883

The Diseases Prevention (Metropolis) Act 1883 received royal assent on 20 August 1883. It gave the Metropolitan Asylums Board (MAB) additional powers in relation to the isolation and treatment of people suffering from infectious diseases.

The Act also removed the link between treatment for infectious diseases in MAB hospitals and the Poor Law, as previously MAB hospitals could only admit people classified as paupers. Therefore, if one was admitted to an MAB hospital, one was automatically classified as a pauper and lost a number of civil rights.

Infectious disease targeted everyone, whether they were paupers or not. A member of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, an eminent man, had to be 'pauperised' on admission when admitted for fever.

The establishment of smallpox hospitals was also a source of controversy, as it was feared that patients at the hospitals would spread the disease to local populations.


Ayers G.
England's first state hospitals and the Metropolitan Asylums Board, 1867-1930.
Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine; 1971.