A glance through the hygiene history books will show you nightmares of cleanliness. Your doctor smoking as he examines you; a chip shop with a decade’s worth of grease on the windowsill; homes with more bacteria than an E coli test facility.
But the history books aren’t all filled with tales of hygiene woe – in the 19th century British hospitals were maintaining a previously unprecedented level of cleanliness.
The Victorian era was riddled with diseases that have been largely stamped out by medical innovations. Smallpox, TB and cholera were a blight on communities up and down the UK. Middle-class men were expected to live to an average age of 45. The working classes could be expected to live half that time.
It was up to hospitals had to make a change.
Clean as a Nightingale
In the middle of the 19th century, knowledge of bacteria and germs was increasing. Dr John Snow figured out that cholera was an airborne disease. And medical practitioners were realising that spotless wards reduced the potential for disease.
A number of charlatans conned poorer parts of society with spurious remedies, but hospitals themselves were getting cleaner every year.
Florence Nightingale’s hospital by London’s Thames created an environment which promoted a healthy airflow in hospitals – and her choices have affected the architecture of hospitals ever since.
The earliest incarnation of the NHS in post-war Britain was based on these innovative Victorian hospitals. It’s this solid foundation that’s helped busy hospitals in the UK stay hygienically viable.
Lessons from the past
Even over a century ago, medical practitioners have understood that good hygiene is the key to good health. When the waste surrounding the Thames was cleaned up, for example, there was sharp rise in the life expectancy of its residents.
Through studying history and looking to the future, we understand the importance of waste disposal to help contain and eliminate bacteria. That’s why our waste services offer the highest quality. We’ve taken lessons from the past – let us show you what we’ve learned.