‘Managing’ the crisis
in Stacking the coffins
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How was medical care managed in early 20th century Ireland? How did the patient access the system? How did the Government manage the pandemic? This chapter argues that the influenza epidemic, by placing pressure on the medical system and its institutions, highlighted pre-existing tensions between the Local Government Board and the boards of guardians as local administrators of the Poor Law dispensary system, and highlighted problems over the terms and conditions of the employment of the Poor Law medical officers of health. It shows that the Local Government Board, like the Local Government Board for England and Wales, took a back seat in the management of the disease, without any central plan, leaving the management to the local agents of the Poor Law dispensary service, the Boards of Guardians, to individual hospitals and local authorities, and to schemes set up by local charitable organisations and communities. The local authorities’ medical officers of health, in some areas, relished the challenge, and became proactive in coming forward with suggestions to the public and to businesses on how to handle it.

Stacking the coffins

Influenza, war and revolution in Ireland, 1918–19


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