From refoundation to decline: a century of catholic church hospitals in Spain (1880s-1980s)
This paper analyses the contribution of the Catholic Church to Spanish hospitals for more than a century, from the last three decades of the nineteenth century to the 1980s, when the health system model changed and when the transfer of healthcare to Spain¿s Autonomous Communities was initiated. The refoundation of Catholic Church hospitals can be observed in the last thirty years of the nineteenth century, as the result of the confiscation of Church property that took place during this century. The new hospitals incorporated contemporary scientific innovations and medical specialisation. Over time, the Catholic Church ran a substantial number of hospitals (surgical, maternity, children¿s, psychiatric, shelters, etc.). This work of healthcare provision still continued into the early 1940s, when the Church hospitals were integrated into the national hospital system. Catholic Church hospitals accounted for 15 to 17 per cent of the total number of beds in the Spanish health system. The most common were surgical hospitals ¿ each with around 100 beds ¿ located in urban areas. The contribution of Catholic Church hospitals to psychiatric care was notable (30 per cent of all beds for this purpose in Spain). This study also analyses the ten-percentage point reduction in the number of beds and hospitals dependent on the Church that occurred in the 1980s.