History of St.Helier Hospital

The first Foundation stone

By Zoe Roberts

History of St. Helier Hospital

St Helier Hospital started its life in 1938 after Queen Mary laid the first foundation stone at the site - four years after Surrey County Council acquired a 999 year lease of 10 acres of the St Helier housing estate. The cost of the rent at the time was £1 per year. The first patients were admitted during the Second World War on 24 February 1941 and less than a month later (19 March), a parachute mine was dropped on the hospital. Severe damage was caused to the maternity and children's wings and the small number of patients who were in the hospital at the time were evacuated. The hospital was out of action until 21 May 1941 when admissions restarted. However it was not until 14 months later that the total number of admissions to the hospital went beyond 200 patients.

Photo:St.Helier Hospital

St.Helier Hospital

In 1942, building work was finished although some of the site - mainly the maternity and children's wings - was destroyed during the Second World War. Further damage was caused to St Helier Hospital in June 1944 when it was hit by two flying bombs. It completely destroyed the Medical Superintendent's House in front of Ferguson House.

Developments later continued as the hospital expanded for the residents of the London boroughs of Sutton and Merton. In 1974, St Helier Hospital accommodated the first kidney transplant to be performed here. A 24-year-old Persian man had an operation at the hospital where he received a kidney from his sister. The same year, approximately £2,500 was spent on the food served to patients giving them much greater choice and improved levels of quality.

The hospital's A&E department came in for significant praise by the former Chairman of Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth Health Authority, Mrs Alison Munro, when she opened it in 1977. She described the £200,000 development as "what is best in the National Health Service."

St Helier has also played host to royalty in the past too. During the hospital's Jubilee year in 1963, the Queen Mother visited the hospital to give nursing awards to staff and in 1987, the Princess of Wales officially opened the new £2m maternity unit.

This page was added by Zoe Roberts on 07/05/2010.

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