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Reports on Prisoner Health at Bedford New House of Correction 1840-1

Extracts from reports on the Health of Prisoners and the Bedford New House of Correction 1841 and 1840.

1840 Extract from a report to the Home Secretary on the health of prisoners in the new House of Correction in Bedford (Fifth Report PP 1840)

The prevalent disease is petichia, or land scurvy, a disorder which, though it is now exceedingly rare in this country, is always to be found in this prison. It is a disorder very destructive to health, and constitutions affected by it are greatly broken down, and those who are afflicted with it are generally long in recovering their strength, and in many cases never do so. We had a long and full conference on this subject with the surgeon, who expressed his opinion to the above stated effect in very decided terms - and we ascertained in reply to the questions put by us to this officer (who is a very able and experienced surgeon, and most attentive to his duties) that he attributed the bad state of health and the prevalence of petichial disease to the strict discipline of the prison, the scantiness of the diet, and the defective ventilation of the cells.

1841 Extract from Report by Charles Short - visiting surgeon for the gaol (QGR 1/7 1841)

There has been more illness in the last quarter than has usually occurred in former corresponding periods, taking into account the number of prisoners. The prison is however now in a more healthy state???Two men came to prison with hernia. Several men have been attacked with abdominal pains and diarrhoea. Two have obstinate chronic disease of the liver, all those have terminated favourably. There have been some cases of pleuritic and pulmonary disease and catarrhal fever; the latter have left the men in a state of great debility. The petichial (land scurvy) disease has reappeared in four instances of men sentenced to long imprisonment; they are recovering. Two men had vomiting of blood and haemorrhage from the bowels; they have both recovered. There have occurred only four cases of continued fever, which terminated favourably. Sciatic rheumatism has been rather prevalent but not of long continuance. One man had a very distressing retention of urine attended with severe pain; he was relieved by repeated use of the catheter, warm baths and other means and ultimately recovered. A few cases of disorder of the stomach have occurred. One of leprosy. A man came to prison with varicose veins of the leg; he and the two with hernia (though sentenced to hard labour) were not allowed to work at the wheel. Several vagrants have been brought to the prison in a most filthy state. Some with itch in its worst form; they are well.