Firstly, apologies for missing one of the posts in this series, I have been travelling and was unable to write and publish one due to the lack of Wi-Fi! Anyways, continuing swiftly on, this week’s topic will be about one of perhaps the most iconic establishments in British Medicine today, an institution that continues to provide a high level of care to all its patients. I am talking, of course, about the foundation of the Great Ormond Street Hospital on the 14th February, 1852.
Following a long campaign for the establishment of a children’s hospital as a means of combating the high infant mortality rates that were present in Britain during the 1800s, Dr. Charles West, a prominent figure in the study of children’s health, founded the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Originally containing only ten beds, the hospital treated a wide variety of ailments including bronchitis, catarrh, phthisis and syphilis. The patients were almost all local, coming from the surrounding London Slums, and were all treated by a team of dedicated staff including Dr. Charles West and Mrs. Frances Willey, the hospital’s first matron, appointed in 1852.
Dr. Charles West was a prominent figure in the study of paediatrics, giving numerous lectures throughout his career on the subject of diseases of infancy and childhood. In 1842, he was appointed physician to the Universal Dispensary for Children in Waterloo Road. Three years later, he was appointed as a lecturer in midwifery at Middlesex Hospital, and again as a lecturer in midwifery at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. The first edition of his Lectures on the diseases of infancy and childhood was published in 1848 and granted him a huge amount of public acclaim. Following this, he decided to start a fundraising drive for a hospital for sick children, and several years later his dream was realised with the opening of the Great Ormond Street Hospital. West firmly believed that a specific hospital that catered to the needs of children suffering from a plethora of infectious and potentially fatal diseases would help alleviate the suffering of, arguably, one of the most vulnerable members of society, even today.
Throughout the late nineteenth century, the Great Ormond Street Hospital experienced a number of financial difficulties which were overcome with the help of a number of financial sponsors, including Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria. In 1875, the two houses that had been used as the children’s hospital were quickly becoming overfilled, and thus the hospital’s first clinic block was opened, providing the doctors and patients with a new, 100-bed capacity, state-of-the-art paediatric hospital. The Charles West School of Nursing was opened in 1878 following the resignation of Charles West from the hospital in 1877, which resided at the Great Ormond Street Hospital until it was transferred to South Bank University in 1995. J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, gifted the rights to the Great Ormond Street hospital in 1929, claiming that Peter Pan had been a patient at the hospital and that ‘It was he who put me up to the little thing I did for the hospital’. The rights to Peter Pan continues to be an important source of fundraising for the hospital.
Since its foundation, the Great Ormond Street Hospital has provided care to countless numbers of children and families, has opened a number of centres that are dedicated to researching in diseases of infancy and childhood, and stands as one of the most iconic British hospitals in all of history.
That’s all for now,
Fig. 1 – M0016890 View of “49 Great Ormond Street…” Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images firstname.lastname@example.org http://wellcomeimages.org View of “49 Great Ormond Street, 1882, Dr Mead’s House. French Embassy, next door” (colour) Watercolour 1882 By: J. P. EmsliePublished: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Fig. 2 – V0027324 Charles West. Photograph by G. Jerrard. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images email@example.com http://wellcomeimages.org Charles West. Photograph by G. Jerrard. Published: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Fig. 3 – V0013439 The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London: Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images firstname.lastname@example.org http://wellcomeimages.org The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London: the street facade of the Jubilee wing. Process print after R.S. Ayling, 1890. 1890 By: Robert Stephen Aylingafter: Charles BarryPublished: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Many thanks to http://www.gosh.nhs.uk for their informative explanations of the history of the Great Ormond Street Hospital and for their continued provision of a high level of patient care.