Public Health Timeline

1831 – First Public Board of Health
South Shields suffered a massive  cholera epidemic in 1831 and  a board of health was formed to prevent the outbreak or spread of the epidemic. The board consisted of clergy, medical men, and principal inhabitants.

The first sanitary inspector was appointed

1875 – Sanitary work began
South Shields was one of the last towns to appoint a Medical Officer of Health [MOH]. The first Medical Officer described 1875 as “the first real year of sanitary work”.

The isolation hospital was built

Inspector of Nuisances joined the staff

Inspector of Food joined the staff

Up until 1912 the the department headed by the MOH was  known as the Health Department, from 1913-1918 as the Medical Officer’s Department, becoming the Public Health Department in September 1919.

Before 1912 the MOH was officially called Medical Officer of Health, Medical Superintendent of the Borough Isolation Hospital, Bacteriologist to the Borough. In 1913 he became also Principal School Medical Officer and Chief Tuberculosis Officer, but these responsibilities were to become the province of separate assistant Medical Officers in 1920. In January 1973 the Medical Officer of Health became the Chief Public Health Officer.

In 1930 the transfer of certain functions from the abolished Board of Guardians led to the Medical Officer of Health being appointed Chief Medical Officer by the Public Assistance committee, with responsibility for the Poor Law Medical Staff, including Harton Hospital and district medical officers. In 1948 control of hospitals and medical clinical work passed to the new National Health Service.