News

Scientific Archivists Group 2017 Conference

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HARG members may be interested in attending this year’s Scientific Archivists Group (SAG) conference to be held on Thursday 27 April and Friday 28 April 2017 at The Midland Hotel, Manchester, UK.

The conference includes papers on data protection regulation, data migration from legacy systems, digital preservation and project management skills.

For the full agenda and to make your booking, please go to https://sagroup.eventhq.co.uk/sag-2017-conference. There is a significant discount available for early booking (up to 5th March) and the conference is open to non SAG members.

Archives

New resource offers unique insight into life and death in Leeds

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Visualisations of the Leeds General Cemetery Burial Registers Index

A mine of information for genealogists has been made available online by the University of Leeds Library Special Collections. The burial registers of Leeds General Cemetery are now available for students and the public to access and use for research.

Containing entries relating to the 97,146 people buried at the cemetery, the 25 registers have been transcribed, digitised and made available through the Leeds General Cemetery Burial Registers Index:
https://library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections-explore/Leeds%20General%20Cemetery%20Burial%20Registers%20Index

The registers record information such as name, age, gender, date of death and burial, cause of death, occupation, and parents’ details. It is possible to browse a full list of all the recorded causes of death and occupations and view charts of key statistics from the data.

Leeds General Cemetery opened in 1835 as a public burial ground. The University of Leeds acquired the company in 1956 and the final burial took place there in 1969, although ashes continued to be scattered there until 1992. Today the site is a public park, its name reverted to the original – St George’s Fields.

The digitisation and transcription project was undertaken as part of the Medical Collections Project, launched in November 2015. The project’s aim is to make medical-related collections more widely accessible, to encourage use, and inspire new research by creating online catalogues and digitising selected items. This includes improving the long-term preservation of this material by undertaking repackaging and conservation treatments where appropriate. The project is funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Award, and runs until May 2018.

The University Library’s Special Collections hold the extensive records of the Leeds General Cemetery Company Ltd. Mainly consisting of business and administrative papers alongside the burial registers, the archive covers the lifetime of the company, with records dating from 1733 to 1992. A new catalogue for the Leeds General Cemetery Company Ltd Archive is also now available.

Archives

The Neurosurgical Case Notes of Sir Geoffrey Jefferson

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By Karen Rushton, Wellcome Archivist/Curator, University Archive & Records Centre, The University of Manchester (Karen.rushton@manchester.ac.uk)


 

At the University of Manchester thanks to a generous Wellcome Trust grant we are currently working to catalogue the case files of 20th century neurosurgeon Sir Geoffrey Jefferson (1886-1961). Jefferson was the UK’s first Professor of Neurosurgery who spent most of his career at the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI).

 

The case files we hold cover Jefferson’s time working at the MRI between 1927-1940 on a wide range of neurological disorders including brain tumours, epilepsies, neuralgias, head injuries, and congenital spinal deformities. We also see references to lingering war injuries from WWI, occupational and traffic accidents, neurosyphilis, and the use of surgical and diagnostic techniques later considered to be controversial. The files themselves contain a number of record types including detailed case notes and accounts of surgery, correspondence, x-rays, and both clinical and pathological photographs.

Neurosurgery lecture, with Sir Geoffrey Jefferson on the back row second from the left & Norman Dott on the second row from the back on the left, n.d. ref: JEF/1/10/3

 

Going into the project the first major decision centred on what information we wished to record. The Lothian Health Services Archive in Edinburgh have recently completed a similar project centred on the case files of neurosurgeon Norman Dott (1897-1973) and so it was very helpful to be able to talk to staff there about their approach to the records. Most importantly we recognised that the Jefferson collection is one of a number of neurosurgery collections held across the country and it was important to recognise its part in a wider research web and so make our catalogue comparable to that of the Dott Collection.

 

When dealing with relatively modern patient records considerations surrounding data protection were paramount and procedures are in place to produce a public facing catalogue with all personal information removed and a complete catalogue for use in-house and to be accessed by approved researchers. MeSH has been employed throughout for indexing purposes and provides an invaluable tool for selecting files based on conditions and symptoms. It is here where expert advice from a neurologist based within the University has aided us in creating accurate indexing terms and updating old-fashioned terminology. However, the major barrier with MeSH has arisen regarding the potential indexing of surgical procedures. As a neurosurgeon rather than a neurologist the procedures that Jefferson performed were seen as being a very important factor in the descriptive content of the catalogue, but whether or not it was appropriate to index them or not was another matter. As a thesaurus of modern medical terminology MeSH essentially is not fit for this purpose. Whilst old-fashioned terms for conditions can be updated there is no appropriate terminology for now obsolete surgical procedures such as the frontal lobectomy.

 

Having worked on other medical case note projects in the past, namely the Stannington Project at Northumberland Archives dealing with children’s TB files, I was well prepared for the kinds of challenges we might encounter. Nonetheless there is an inevitable variation in the content of the records and in turn the approach to outreach activities and potential researchers. As all the Stannington files related exclusively to children many of the former patients were still alive meaning we were fortunate enough to be able to interact directly with subjects of the records. Equally the subject of TB feeds very well into existing narratives on public health and has many links to social history. Neurosurgery on the other hand is much less overtly approachable to those with a non-scientific or medical background and it is here where interpretative events and blogs have been essential in drawing out less obvious themes and material such as the possibility of the use of visual material in the files by artists working in the medical humanities.

 

Illustration of a brain aneurysm by Dorothy Davison, c.1940s, ref: uncatalogued

 

The cataloguing process is nearing completion but conservation and outreach work will be on-going as the project continues. As part of the Wellcome funding we will also be tackling several other medical collections including the work of 20th century medical illustrator Dorothy Davison, medical artwork from the teaching collections of 19th century obstetrician Thomas Radford, and papers relating to the pioneer of the artificial hip Sir John Charnley.

Guest Post

New NHS Code of Practice on Records Management

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Laura Hynds, records manager working within the NHS, January 2017


During 2015/2016 Daniel Scott-Davies and I, on behalf of the Archives and Records Association (ARA) were involved in the revision of the NHS Code of Practice on Records Management, last revised in 2009. The revised Code of Practice was written by the Information Governance Alliance (IGA) and can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/records-management-code-of-practice-for-health-and-social-care. The previous Code of Practice and associated retention schedule have now been withdrawn.

 

The NHS Code of Practice on Records Management is the key guidance document for those working at all levels in the health sector regarding records retention periods and records management. It is used as the basis for organisational policies on the subject and provides guidance to organisations on the transfer of Public Records to a Place of Deposit – these are records identified with continuing value which should be in the care of professional archivists.

 

Whilst the archives community has had significant involvement in the major revision of the 2006 Code, the first draft that was viewed by the ARA of the new code was far from best professional practice – in particular the retention schedule. Along with my colleagues, I had serious concerns about the number of categories with retention actions of ‘destroy’, the lack of consideration for records which should be reviewed for long term archival retention and inconsistencies with legislation. Following this initial review of the document, Daniel and I decided that the ARA needed to be more involved in the process.

 

It took a formal letter from the CEO of the ARA addressed to the chair of the IGA, copied to several senior stakeholders including Dame Caldicott and MPs, for our concerns to be taken seriously and for us to be added to the working group for the revised code. Once we were more formally involved, a good working relationship between the ARA and the IGA developed which will be useful to draw upon in the future. Working together, we negotiated many changes to the document which at times was challenging. Many of the changes that were made were linked to the input of archivists for the 2006 Code.

 

Whilst the published version of the code is not perfect, the document was at a stage where it could be endorsed by the ARA and is a much stronger document than it was back in the summer of 2015. The first part of the published code provides up to date guidance on a range of record keeping issues from records storage to digital continuity and there is a new, useful section on dealing with specific types of records. These range from prison health records to records created by social media and websites.

 

The area where the ARA has had the most input has been the records retention schedule. This now includes right at the start a message regarding recordkeeping and the Independent Inquiry into Child Abuse. Retention periods for clinical research trial records have changed in line with European Regulations. The disposal actions of several record categories have also been updated. If you work within the health sector or acquire records from the health sector into an archive, it is definitely worth reviewing your own policies in line with the new guidance – something we are doing at present.

 

The retention schedule is shorter than the previous one and we have concerns in particular over the length of the section on pharmacy records as this is an area that produces large amounts of significant records within many NHS organisations, particularly hospitals. The schedule at least now links to somewhere where additional guidance can be found. We also continue to be concerned over the guidance on maintaining electronic patient records held in systems. Both of these issues will hopefully be considered with the first annual review of the code in July 2017.

 

On the NHS Digital website, it is now possible to provide feedback on the Code of Practice prior to the annual review. The link to provide feedback can be found here: https://nhs-digital.citizenspace.com/information-governance-alliance/records-management-code-of-practice-2016-feedback/. One of our concerns with the initial revision of the code was the lack of representation from the Royal Colleges. Due to the regular review cycle the document will continue to be worked upon and developed so please feedback any concerns you may have from a recordkeeping point of view. Daniel and I are also happy to raise concerns and advocate for those within the profession regarding the code of practice as well as other issues regarding recordkeeping within the NHS.

News

Exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the Royal Masonic Hospital

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Thought that members of the Health Archives and Records Group might like to know about our current exhibition, Healing Through Kindness, which commemorates the centenary of the founding of the Royal Masonic Hospital. For further details see: http://freemasonry.london.museum/event/exhibition-healing-through-kindness/

The exhibition will be open Monday to Friday 10am until 5pm until 7 April 2017.

Opened as a hospital for war casualties in 1916, it was conceived originally as a hospital for freemasons in 1911. The First World War led to a change it plans and the freemasons offered to run the facility for the War Office if that government body found it suitable premises. The former Chelsea Hospital for Women was secured and the freemasons met all the running costs for the Freemasons’ War Hospital at 237 Fulham Road, Chelsea. It proved so successful that a second hospital was established at Fulham Palace in 1917 and a convalescent facility in Caversham, Berks as well.

After hostilities ceased the Hospital re-opened as the Freemasons Hospital and Nursing Home in 1920 and treated freemasons, their wives and children. This was before the formation of the National Health Service, when private nursing or hospital admittance was expensive for those on average incomes but public charitable hospitals offered limited, basic care.

Funds to maintain and finance the Hospital were raised by members and it proved so successful that a new, purpose-built Hospital with over 200 beds was opened in premises at Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith in 1933. Opened by King George V and Queen Mary, the new building was known as The Royal Masonic Hospital.

The Wakefield Wing opened in 1958 with new operating theatres, wards and a nurse training school. Nurse training began in 1948 in the hospital basement until the purpose-built school and nurses home opened. Nurses who qualified at the Hospital wore a special silver belt buckle and were well-regarded within medical circles for their expertise and training. The Percy Still Wing, named after one of the founders of the Hospital, opened in 1976, providing state of the art operating theatres and a new pathology laboratory.

Freemasons contributed to care according to their means or was funded by the Hospital charitable funds. By the 1980s the Hospital accepted non-Masonic private patients as freemasons explored private medical treatment locally or chose NHS treatment. A series of Masonic reports recommended closure of the Hospital and support of local treatment for members requiring medical care. Despite these recommendations, the Hospital remained a popular cause among members and the Hospital continued to offer innovative services, such as Neurolinguistic Therapy and a private IVF Unit run by Robert Winston and Raul Magara during the 1980s-1990s. However, rising medical and service costs led to the closure of the Hospital in 1996.

The exhibition draws on the archives of the Royal Masonic Hospital which are now catalogued to item level, with details included in our on-line catalogue, reference: GBR 1991 RMH – see http://freemasonry.london.museum/catalogue16.php