Hospitals by Denise Amos

Queens Medical Centre

The Queen's Medical Centre in 2006.
The Queen's Medical Centre in 2006.

The beginnings of this hospital began in 1964 when parliament decided that Nottingham was to have a new University Hospital and Medical School, the first outside of London in the twentieth century. It was to be the largest hospital in the UK and the largest first purpose built teaching hospital in Europe until 2012. It was officially opened on 28 July 1977 by Her Majesty, The Queen.

The hospital got off to a shaky start even before any bricks had been laid. Building was supposed to commence in 1968 but because of cuts in its budget and the actual siting of the hospital there was a delay and Taylor Woodrow did not begin construction until 1971 of the Medical School block, which was an integral part of the centre and was opened in 1975.Professor David Greenfield, was to be Dean of the new Medical School which was connected to the Nottingham University. He had previously spent 16 years at Queens University, Belfast. The Medical School took its first class of 48 students in 1970.

Newspapers were reporting on the opposition to the siting of the hospital from local residents and businesses who were angry at the way the plans had been conducted and they had sent a petition to the Corporation. BY the time building was under way the size of the hospital and medical school had already grown by 60% and the proposed cost had risen from £15000, 000 in 1967 to £2000, 000. William Whitlock, Labour MP for Nottingham North complained that it was too big.

Phase I proper of the West Block became fully operational with 458 beds in the winter of 1978-9. Phase I, the East and South wings would ultimately provide 1000 beds was scheduled to be partially  open by the summer of 1979 but because of the budget cuts it was mothballed for a year  upsetting the timetable for completion. When work subsequently restarted units from the older hospitals began moving in. In August 1978 the casualty service at the Nottingham Eye Hospital moved to the Queens Medical Centre. On 2 November 1981 the first baby was born at the hospital.

In the beginning the hospital there were to be 600 beds but on completion in the mid 1980s there were 1400 beds, more than 5000 staff, the hospital was colour coded to help get around and five hospitals had amalgamated under one roof; The General Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, The Women’s Hospital, Harlow Orthopaedic Hospital and neuro-services from derby Royal Infirmary.

It seemed that despite this the hospital was still dogged by problems, one of which was that in September 1980 one of the six operating theatres was shut down because of insufficient staff to run it.  In September 1982, Kenneth Clarke, MP for Rushcliffe commented, “ seems to me now that we have got it (the hospital) it’s a great public scandal that it’s not being used.”

Despite the problems the hospital has gone on to become a flagship hospital for the NHS.

In 2003 there were 25 operating theatres, 1,200 beds and 6000 staff plus 600 volunteers. The hospital has treated more than 115000 inpatients and 420000 outpatients every year. There are also 1000 toilets, 23 miles of corridors!

The Queens Medical Centre, University Hospital has taken over the needs and requirements of the city and its wider area. Most hospital services are to be found at the Centre or at the City Hospital. There are a few services which remain on the Ropewalk, eg. Breast Screening where many of the smaller specialist hospitals began. The QMC took over training of nurses across the region until 1993 when the government decreed that all nurses should have degrees and training became centred at the QMC and University.

 The QMC and the City Hospital merged in 2006 to form the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. The two hospitals are linked for medical education purposes and the University now also trains at the Royal Derby Hospital, for the Graduate Entry scheme, as well as overseas students. Physiotherapy training is centred at the City Hospital.

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