Intended for healthcare professionals


Updated Gin Lane exemplifies modern day public health challenges

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 26 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5758

Re: Updated Gin Lane exemplifies modern day public health challenges

I welcome this article which highlighted William Hogath’s ‘Gin Lane’ and The Royal Society for Public Health aim to bring the artwork into the modern day. As a third year medical student I had the privilege of having a lesson in clinical examination under two of Hogarth’s murals called ‘The Good Samaritan’ and ‘The Pool of Bethesda’. These magnificent paintings tower over the northern staircase leading up to the James Gibbs’s Great Hall at St Bartholomew's Hospital. They exhibit the harsh realities of untreated disease which contrasts with the beauty of such classical works.

Throughout my clinical rotation I was encouraged to revisit the murals, to use the diseases present in this artwork to understand the context and development of medicine. The ‘Gin Lane’ adaptation made me wonder what Hogath's murals would illustrate given a similar modern makeover. However, perhaps a greater nostalgic part of me feels that these should be left to the testament of time? To serve as a reminder of the maladies still evident but long forgotten in society.

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 November 2016
Robert D Michael