Before the introduction of the NHS in 1948, the Cumberland Infirmary was the city’s main provider of healthcare. It was run by trustees and paid for by insurance and charitable donations, treating about 5,000 people per year.
In 1915, following the outbreak of the war the year before, the War Office requested that 30 of the 134 beds at the Infirmary were allocated to wounded soldiers. Although this put huge pressures on the hospital, it was agreed that all efforts would be put into providing care to the soldiers and the beds were made available from 16 May 1915. Throughout the war charitable giving increased, the local population were generous in providing financial donations, but also gifts and donations of necessary items.
Between May 1915 and December 1918 the Cumberland Infirmary treated 699 patients, 26 of the patients lost their lives whilst at the Infirmary, 18 of these were victims of the Quintinshill Rail Disaster of 1915.