Catalogue description Catalogue of papers and correspondence of KEITH FREDERICK BOWDEN (1936 - 1982) Relating to the University of Essex / Guy's Hospital Medical Records Project

This record is held by Essex University Library

Details of CSAC 105/2/85
Reference: CSAC 105/2/85
Title: Catalogue of papers and correspondence of KEITH FREDERICK BOWDEN (1936 - 1982) Relating to the University of Essex / Guy's Hospital Medical Records Project





CSAC 105/2/85/B.1-B.12 Ministry of Health (later Department of Health and Social Security)


CSAC 105/2/85/B.13-B.29 Harlow


CSAC 105/2/85/B.30-B.39 Steering Committee


CSAC 105/2/85/B.40-B.53 Essex Medical Project Meetings


CSAC 105/2/85/B.54-B.56 Thamesmead


CSAC 105/2/85/B.57-B.59 Miscellaneous






Compiled by Jeannine Alton and Peter Harper


The work of the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre, and the production of this catalogue, are made possible by the support of the following societies and institutions:


The Biochemical Society


The Charles Babbage Foundation for the History of Information Processing


The Institute of Physics


The Institution of Electrical Engineers


The Institution of Mechanical Engineers


The Nuffield Foundation


The Rhodes Trustees


The Royal Society of London


The Wolfson Foundation




The papers were received from Mr. I.R. MacCallum of the Department of Computer Science, University of Essex. We are grateful to Mr. MacCallum for help in identifying and describing material, and for comments on sections of the draft catalogue.

Date: 1967 - 1975
Held by: Essex University Library, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Bowden, Keith Frederick, 1936-1982, scientist and computer scientist

Physical description: 96 files
  • Medical information systems
Administrative / biographical background:

The Thamesmead Community Health Project was originally suggested by G.A. Barnard of Essex University and W.J.H. Butterfield of Guy's Hospital Medical School. It envisaged the use of computer facilities for information handling in respect of positive health care at a medical centre in the new town of Thamesmead. In February 1967 the Ministry of Health agreed to finance, for five years from 1 October 1967, a Senior Lecturership at the University of Essex with special reference to the health service. The person appointed (Bowden) was to work in the first instance on the Thamesmead Project. At the same time the Ministry also agreed to finance two temporary fellowships to run from July to September 1967 'to keep in touch with work on the Thamesmead computer specification'. Bowden and I.R. MacCallum were appointed to these temporary fellowships before starting on their appointments to the staff of Essex University in October.


By June 1967 the Ministry of Health had decided that the provision of a computer at Thamesmead did not accord with their priorities for computer development in the health service, but they wished the project to continue if computer facilities could be made available elsewhere. In October, Bowden and MacCallum, with M.E. Abrams and J.O.P. Chamberlain of Guy's Hospital, presented to the Ministry a major feasibility study on 'a system of information handling in the Thamesmead Health Project', which was now defined in terms of the creation of integrated health records stored on and accessible by means of a computer (see A.1). For the purposes of the project it was proposed to use computers at the University of Essex linked to an established health centre which would provide 'earlier and diverse experience' of general practitioner needs. Funding, chanelled through Essex University, was provided for three years from May 1968 and subsequently extended for eighteen months. The original title of Thamesmead Project was changed to the Guy's/Essex General Practice Computing Project. The computer personnel were based at Essex, Guy's Hospital provided medical support, and an established general practice at Harlow (Dr. J.B. Davis) provided the experience of general practitioner needs necessary for the creation of integrated health records. Eventually about 2,500 records were computerised and the project went 'live' for approximately fifteen months with direct links between the Harlow practice and the Essex computer. This was the first time all the general medical records of a doctor had been maintained on a computer system and also the first time a doctor had the opportunity to consult and update a computer-based record at the time of consultation. The project documentation was subsequently sent to Exeter Hospital where many of the ideas developed in the Essex/ Guy's Hospital project were incorporated into another experimental project with a practice at Ottery St. Mary.

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