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Charles Dickens presents a topical chat show about changes to healthcare and medical science during Victorian times. Two doctors solve sick patients' problems by old-fashioned and modern methods of healthcare in 'Ask the Doctor'. The groundbreaking Dr Joseph Lister compares his new scientific approaches with the unhygienic, old-fashioned doctor Guffquat.

We move on to learn about cholera, a deadly disease of Victorian times. Dr John Snow reports on his investigation of cholera outbreaks in London, and his discovery that drinking water contaminated with sewage was the cause. The New Victorian sewers helped to reduce cholera by keeping sewage and drinking water separate. Finally, we learn about new methods in nursing from Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale. Mary Seacole, equipped with healing knowledge from her Jamaican mother, travelled alone to nurse soldiers on the battlefield and set up a rest home for soldiers in the Crimea. Florence Nightingale set up and ran a hospital in Scutari, organising teams of nurses and making significant improvements to hospital care.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
29 March 2012

Classroom Ideas

After viewing the clip, ask each pupil to find out about one of the individuals who featured in it: Joseph Lister, John Snow, Florence Nightingale or Mary Seacole. The children could draw portraits of their chosen figure and use information books, a biographical dictionary and digital or online sources to discover more. Ask: "Which of these people was the most important to the development of medicine?" The class could hold a debate, arguing the case for each figure and finally voting to decide on their answer.

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