NURSES and staff have produced a film outlining how George Orwell’s time in Hairmyres Hospital shaped his dystopian masterpiece 1984.
The online video, released as part of NHS Lanarkshire’s 70th Anniversary celebrations, pays tribute to their most famous patient.
NHS Lanarkshire was formed 70 years ago, around the same time Orwell was writing 1984.
The writer was admitted to Hairmyres on Christmas Eve 1947 where he was an inpatient for seven months. He had been suffering from a severe bout of TB.
Ignoring the advice of his doctor to rest, Orwell continued to work on his book ‘The Last Man in Europe’.
Completing it after he left the hospital, his publisher did not like the title and renamed it 1984.
The video features 20 members of staff from departments throughout University Hospital Hairmyres.
Cleverly edited, it intersperses famous quotes from the writer’s work with facts about TB and its treatment, claiming that Orwell’s experiences of the illness may have influenced his portrayal of Winston in 1984.
The film quotes Orwell’s descriptions of Winston’s physical condition, comparing it to that of a TB sufferer – “the legs had shrunk so that the knees were thicker than the thighs and the barrel of the ribs was as narrow as that of a skeleton. The scraggy neck seemed to be bending double under the weight of the skull.”
The writer left Hairmyres at the time of the birth of the NHS. He admitted to friends that 1984’s tone had much to do with his illness.
The film concludes with the phrase ‘Big Brother is Watching You’ and that ‘we shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.’
Joanne Edwards, director of hospital services for University Hospital Hairmyres said: “Hairmyres has a fantastic history, which predates the birth of the NHS.
“In 1914, German prisoners of war helped expand the hospital when they built a TB sanatorium which opened in 1919.
“The sanatorium was erected with the weather conditions in mind, built in v-shaped buildings facing south to capture the sun and the wind.
“It is very fitting that staff wanted to pay tribute to the sanatorium’s and the hospital’s most famous patient.”