Birmingham’s Medical Past on Display

Birmingham (14, March 2019) – If you had been alive 100 years ago you may have undergone surgery anaesthetised via an ether mask, received a vaccine via a huge stainless-steel syringe or used a ceramic inhaler to assist your breathing.

An eye-opening display shows some of the medical and surgical instruments used to perform procedures in the past and highlights how the healthcare we receive today has been revolutionised by technology.

Edgbaston-based healthcare organisation, HealthTrust Europe, is displaying old apparatus alongside some modern-day equivalents to highlight medical advances, coinciding with British Science Week.

The array of old devices, some of which look gruesome by today’s standards, has been kindly loaned by Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, which is based at its City South campus, also in Edgbaston.

Dennis Robb, CEO of HealthTrust Europe said: “This display brings to life how medical technology has developed over the decades and how fortunate we are for these advancements today.

The healthcare solutions we offer are clinically-led and we work in partnership with some fantastic suppliers of products and services across the healthcare delivery spectrum, acting as a bridge between them and healthcare providers to improve healthcare in the communities we serve. It is humbling for us to help bring innovation to the NHS and the private sector to create a positive impact on people’s lives.”

The old instruments on display include an appliance used during anaesthesia that contains a Sparklets bulb similar to those in soda siphons, an old-fashioned (and chilly-looking) stainless-steel bedpan, a mouth-gag and a lumbar-puncture kit.

Birmingham City University has been providing healthcare training since the 1960s, with 12,245 students graduating in subjects allied to medicine in the last decade alone. It’s School of Nursing and Midwifery offers a range of courses in adult nursing, child nursing and midwifery.

Lisa Abbott Associate Head of School for Nursing and Midwifery from Birmingham City University said: “We’re proud of our role in training the next generation of healthcare practitioners. This display is a chance for us to look back and realise how healthcare has evolved over the decades.”


For further details contact Nicola Jones, Communications Specialist, HealthTrust Europe, 07940 526 570 or

Notes to Editors

  • HealthTrust Europe (HTE) is part of HCA Healthcare, a leading international provider of healthcare services, who is driven by the care and improvement of human life. More on our ownership structure here:
  • HTE is a trusted solutions partner for public and private health and care providers, helping them to source the best value products and services to deliver excellent patient care.
  • HTE partners with 148 Acute Hospitals and 140 non-acute sites in the UK utilising its circa £1bn purchasing power to create cost saving opportunities and best terms for its members.
  • HTE’s model works to alleviate cost pressures across the health sector, by collaborating with product and service suppliers, at no cost to the taxpayer or the NHS.
  • HTE’s solutions are patient-centered and clinically led, driving quality, safety, service and price.