Archive for July, 2011

Dr Edwin Goodall – The First Medical Superintendent

July 30th, 2011


Edwin Goodall was the first medical superintendent of Cardiff City Mental Hospital (Whitchurch Hospital). He was appointed in 1906, two years before the hospital was opened and retired in 1929.

Dr Goodall trained as a doctor at Guy’s Hospital in London before pursuing further training in Germany at the University of Tübingen where he was a contemporary of Alois Alzheimer. Before moving to Cardiff, Dr Goodall was Assistant Medical Officer and Pathologist at the West Riding Asylum in Wakefield before becoming Medical Superintendent at the Joint Counties Asylum in Carmarthen. In Carmarthen he achieved the notable feat of learning Welsh in six months. His appointment in Cardiff followed a rigorous selection process in which forty-two candidates had applied.

Dr Goodall’s achievements in Cardiff were many. He co-authored a textbook Insanity and Allied Neuroses with the eminent London psychiatrist, Sir George Savage. He founded a very strong research team that pre-empted the establishment of the Medical Research Council Unit that flourished well into the 1980s. His team was responsible for many research papers investigating the biological basis for mental disorders.

Personal recognition came by way of his being appointed co-editor of the Journal of Mental Science (now the British Journal of Psychiatry). He served two terms as President of the Neurology and Psychiatry Section of Royal Society of Medicine (1911 and 1928) and a term as President of the Medico-Psychological Association (now the Royal College of Psychiatrists 1923). In 1914 he gave a series of prestigious Croonian lectures to the Royal College of Physicians and in 1927 delivered the eighth Maudsley Lecture to the Royal Medico-Psychological Association.

In his work in the hospital Dr Goodall  developed a career structure for male Nurses rather than seeing them as merely attendants and was the first Medical Superintendent in England and Wales to introduce the nursing of male patients by female nurses.

In 1915 the hospital was handed over to the military authorities for the care and treatment of wounded soldiers. Appointed a Lieut-Colonel in the RAMC he was Officer in Charge of the now Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital and developed treatment for soldiers suffering from shellshock. For this work he was awarded he CBE in 1919.

After the First World War the hospital returned to civilian use and Dr Goodall developed the first outpatient department outside of London in the King Edward VIIth Hospital (Cardiff Royal Infirmary). In line with this increased link with general medicine Dr Goodall was appointed the firs Lecturer in Mental Disorders at the Welsh National Medical School. His research at this time was fundamental in providing treatment to prevent the neurological problems associated with syphilis infection.

On his retirement in 1929 Dr Goodall was praised by the hospital as a pioneer in psychiatry and a great leader of the discipline whose career in Cardiff was something which was a source of great pride to his hospital.

Thanks to Ian Beech for this post