Staff from Ayrshire Archives recently made a training visit to Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA), situated in the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh. A tour was given by the archivist which gave a fantastic insight into the records and health related objects they hold. Much of the material within the LHSA has come from NHS hospitals within the Lothian region, in particular the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. However the collections are also composed of records from non-NHS agencies and personal records which have been deposited, adding depth and different contemporary aspects to the holdings.
The LHSA was awarded Accredited Archive Status in 2014 and over 3,000 shelves hold the material which makes it one of the largest health archives in Scotland. The collections are composed of a variety of records including case notes, staff records, a range of objects, films and photographs – holding approximately 40,000 images. From the tour we were able to view the LHSA stores and some material from the collections. We were also able to gain an insight into the accessibility of the records and archive service, in addition to some of the issues which the LHSA face with preservation of a large range of materials.
The LHSA is well known for the Edinburgh and Lothian HIV/AIDS Collections. These records have highlighted the growth in the levels of HIV/AIDS in Edinburgh and Lothian from 1983 to 2010 and demonstrate different responses to this increase. The eleven collections were recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed on the UK Memory of the World Register in 2011.
We would like to thank the archivist and members of staff at the LHSA for welcoming Ayrshire Archives and for a very interesting tour of the facilities!