History of Scunthorpe Hospital

A History of The Scunthorpe General Hospital and how the Iron and Steel works and workers helped

Early Days

Prior to 1850, Scunthorpe was a hamlet of some 500 population, but in the early 1850s Ironstone was found in the area in great quantities and the first ironworks were erected. From this beginning sprung a vast iron and steel manufacture which is present today. With the industry came an influx of population which grew steadily during the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s.

In the iron and steel industry, as with every other major industry, there are hazards to work people – probably more in this industry than most, as molten metal is being handled and heavy equipment used.

In these early days, men injured at work either had to be treated by a local medical practitioner or, if the case was a serious injury, a horse and rider was sent galloping to the ferry terminal to notify them that a horse drawn wagon was on its wat with an injured patient aboard for transfer and could the ferry be delayed in necessary. The workman had to be transferred to Hull which was the nearest hospital at that time with adequate facilities. The patient had to suffer an arduous journey to New Holland by road – across the ferry to Hull and eventually reached the Hull royal Infirmary, if he was successful in surviving the ordeal.

In 1886 a group of men formed a Committee – composed of representatives of the local works and mines and their employees and a Frodingham Cottage Hospital was instituted. This commenced in the Frodingham Town Hall where a room was set aside with three beds and accident cases from the works were admitted and treated by a local practitioner, Dr CAJ Benrendt. The Chairman of the Committee was rev GM Weigall (Vicar of St Lawrence’s Church), Mr JB Hanby as Hon Secretary and Mr George Dove as Treasurer.

In 1892, Mr JC Champion was appointed Secretary and during this year the Committee suffered a setback – the hospital had to be closed owing to the unsanitary state; to remedy this, a new ventilation and sanitary facilities were installed before it re-opened.

In 1899 the need for additional facilities became apparent and an annexe was erected providing for 12 beds and an operating theatre, and became known as the Tin Tabernacle. This was later increased to 30 beds.

In 1914 the erection of a completely new hospital was discussed but with the War intervening this was dropped, but after the War it was greed that the building of a hospital should become the Town’s Memorial for those lost in the Great War.

The steelworks had been expanding continually. John Lysaghts Works at Normanby park had opened in 1910 and a branch of Richard Thomas & Baldwins had erected works at Redbourn, The Frodingham Iron Company and Appleby Steel Company had amalgamated to become Appleby Frodingham Steel Company and the population increased by leaps and bounds.

Lord St Oswald, a notable landowner, who had benefitted greatly by the ironstone mined from his land, made a grant of land for a hospital off Doncaster Road and plans for the building began to be made.

It was not, however, until the late 1920 that these plans began to see fruition – the Chairman at the time being Mr Arthur Cooke, the Secretary, Mr Arthur E Maw and the Matron, Miss CM Chancellor.

A building fund was formed. Ward Town and Village Communities instituted and workmens’ subscriptions began. Donations large and small began to come in, an Annual Hospital Carnival was a major event of each year and slowly but surely, sufficient funds were accumulated for a start to be made.

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From 1929 to the end of the Second World War

The culmination of many years’ hard work came on 5th December 1929 when the Scunthorpe and District War Memorial Hospital was opened with 72 beds, and 22 patients were transferred to the new hospital from the Frodingham Cottage Hospital. The cost of the new hospital was £65,000 inclusive of equipment.

The number of in-patients treated in 1930 was 1,167 and 4,034 out-patients. The total expenditure for the year was £13,084, the maintenance cost per in-patient 9s 3d per day and the average cost per out-patients 6s 5 1/2d.

In 1931 Mrs L Hall succeeded Miss Chancellor as Matron and the bed complement increased to 86. An X-ray apparatus was installed and Dr H Millar of Sheffield was appointed as Honorary Consulting Radiologist, also an Honorary Consulting Pathologist, Dr WW Adamson.

In 1932 plans were formulated for a new Nurses Home and the Duke of Kent on 26th October 1933, the cost being £15,000, opened this. This included a training school for nurses and was recognised by the General Nursing Council.

1935 saw the opening of additional wards which were called after the principal benefactors – namely the local steel industries – Appleby Frodingham, Lysaghts, Redboune, Firth Brown and Winn (Frodingham Ironstone Mines) – this further increased the number of beds to 130.

Workmens’ contributions were the main sources of revenue, providing half of the total receipts. The cost per patient had actually been reduced between 1930 and 1937 – in the latter year an in-patient day cost being 7s 5d and an out-patient r=treatment was 6s 4 1/2d.

Plans were now being formulated for further extensions – a new Out-Patients department and a wing comprising beds fro cancer cases and private patients. On 27th August 1939, the foundation stone was laid by Alderman Bernard Holland JP (First mayor of the newly incorporated Borough of Scunthorpe). War was imminent and the hospital became a Class A1 under the new Emergency Hospital Scheme. Admissions were restricted to acute emergencies but the building work was permitted to go ahead – following representation by Mr DJL Quibell (later Lord Quibell), then a local MP to the Ministry of Health.

The War years were an arduous time – beds had to be reserved for War casualties, staffing was difficult but work went on regardless although the waiting lists grew. Financially the position was sound as the Ministry of Health provided funds for beds reserved under the emergency Hospital Schemes.

The extensions were completed in 1942 and opened on 15th July of that years by the Rt Hon Ernest Brown, MC and MP, then Minister of Health. The cost of these extensions totalled £110,000.

In 1945 Mrs L Hall retired and Miss V Allen was appointed her successor as Matron. Mr Arthur E Maw also retired due to ill-health) and Mr S Lord took his place as Secretary, with Mr F Gowers as Assistant Secretary. A change also took place in the Boards of Management – Mr A Crooke retiring as President and was succeeded by Lord Quibell – there were 32 members of the Boards at that time.

With the end of the War the Hospital resumed its peace-time role, now having204 beds – the costs had soared to 13s 1d per in-patient day and 6s 10d per out-patient, and the annual expenditure to £54,390. Mr W Moir-Shepherd also relinquished his post as Honorary Surgeon, having served in this capacity since the old Cottage Hospital days and six resident medical staff were now employed.

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The Immediate years after the War

Feverish Activity and much opposition occurred in 1946 and 1947 against the National Health Service Bill, which required all hospitals (voluntary and municipal) to become subject to the Ministry of Health and Government control.

In spite of written and verbal protests the Act was made law and 5th July 1948 became D-day: the old Board of Management was dissolved and a new Scunthorpe Hospital Management Committee took its place with Lord Quibell as Chairman, Alderman Richard O’Dowd as Vice Chairman and 14 other members. They were responsible for a hospital group comprising of Scunthorpe War Memorial Hospital, Scunthorpe Maternity Home, Brumby Hospital and Glanford Hospital, Brigg.

Shortly after 5th July 1948 the Scunthorpe Hospital league of Friends was formed, and below is the first Full year’s income:

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1948 to late 1960's

It took some years for things to settle down, and although plans for further expansion were made money was a scarce commodity and hospitals were running virtually on a shoestring. What monies were available were used on essential maintenance, which had been neglected during the War years, but several minor projects were undertaken; the air raid shelter in the basement of the new Out-Patients was converted to accommodate an ENT Ward and a Central Stores, and the old Out-Patients department was made into an Operating Theatre (known as Theatre 2) on the floor below Theatre 1.

Miss V Allen went to Bishops Stortford as Matron and was succeeded by Miss Jane Graham (who died a tragic death some years later), and then by Miss Catherine Border, who had been Assistant Matron since the Frodingham Cottage Hospital days, became Matron, and Mr F Gowers became Hospital Secretary as well as Deputy Group Secretary.

Due to lack of finance from the Sheffield regional Board, an acute shortfall of medical staff accommodation was relieved by the HMC taking the initiative of purchasing two houses from their free monies: 143 Church Lane and 155 Cliff Gardens.

In March 1960 Lord Quibell retired from the Chairmanship and Mr JR Heslam was appointed as his successor. Lord Quibell was then 80 years of age and he died in April 1962.

The long-awaited development began in 1957 with an extension to the main kitchen but it was not until 1962 that any real progress was made in the major development, when a start was at last made with the erection of a six-storey ward block on the site of the old Coronation Block. It was first anticipated that four storeys would be added to the two already existing but it was found that this was not feasible so the two blocks were demolished and a new structure erected on the site. Associated with this development was the provision of additional residential accommodation for nursing staff and three new blocks providing 38 units were erected on the church lane site.

The new Coronation Wing block, containing 165 beds, was officially opened by Sir Arnold W France KCB (Permanent Secretary to the ministry of Health) on 15th July 1966. Mr Heslam, unfortunately, did not see the culmination of this development owing to his untimely decease on 27th November 1965.

Two other senior officers left the service during this period; Miss AC Border retired in November 1964 (after 40 year’s service), and was succeeded as Matron by Mrs G Fijalkowski, and Mr S Lord, Group Secretary, retired on 14th May 1966 (after 21 year’s service) and was succeeded by Mr R Tremayne.

Mr W Auty took over the Chairmanship of the HMC in February 1966.

The development programme was now progressing rapidly; a new Out-Patients department (OPDI) was commenced in 1967 and completed in 1969. This provided much-needed Pathological, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Dental and Orthodontic and Out-Patient Clinic facilities and was followed by the re-modelling of the old Out-Patients department (OPDII), which was completed in 1972.

The old Nurses’ home was upgraded altogether with additional Nurse training School accommodation and non-resident change facilities provided adjacent. The medical staff quarters were extended and improved, and the older wards were almost entirely refurnished.

Mr Auty resigned as Chairman in March 1967, being succeeded by Sir John Dudding, who has seen the erection of the Postgraduate Medical Centre, the building of the Geriatric Day Hospital and more recently the commencement of the new Pediatric/Geriatric wards during his term of office. This latter project will add a further 100 beds to the hospital (40 pediatric and 620 geriatric) when it is completed in 1975.

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1970's to present day

In 1970 the hospital name changed to Scunthorpe General Hospital & a new Post graduate Medical Centre & Day Hospital for the Elderly was created, also work began on a block containing wards for the elderly, paediatric & dermatology patients this was completed in 1976.

1974 had seen the disappearance of the Matron role within the Hospital and the appointment of a Head of Nursing. It also began the transition of the Hospital to become part of the Humberside Health Authority, before separating again in 1984 to become the Scunthorpe & Goole Hospital, run by Scunthorpe District and following the closure of the Goole Hospitals which had merged with the Scunthorpe Hospital. The ensuing few years saw many changes and the introduction of new levels of management; whilst there was an expansion of the services available during this time, it also gave rise to a diminution in the number of beds available with the demise of Glanford Hospital and Brumby Hospital.

Over these years the Hospital accommodated several serious events; As well as the Nypro disaster 1974, in May 1982, a stand holding 800 people at Normanby Hall, for It’s a Knockout, collapsed seriously injuring 60 people.

But there was good news too; a new £2.5 million three-storey A & E unit on which work began in September 1986 and the unit was opened in October 1988. In addition, a 4-storey extension to the Out-Patient Department was finished in 1989 providing seven extra consulting & examination rooms, audiology facilities, special treatment clinic, an extended rehabilitation department and a new mortuary with post mortem facilities.

On April 1st 1993 Scunthorpe General Hospital & Goole & District Hospital became an NHS Trust. And a particularly high point during this year was on 19 May 1993 when a new £15 million ward & theatre block was opened by the Queen, in a tour of South Humberside; photographs and the Guest Book that she signed can be found within the Church Lane entrance.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was established as a combined hospital and community Trust on 1st April 2001 and achieved Foundation Status on 1st May 2007. It was formed by the merger of North East Lincolnshire NHS Trust and Scunthorpe & Goole Hospitals NHS Trust and operates all NHS hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole. Its name reflects the wider geographical area in which the Trust is a major provider of health care.

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It would be indeed remiss if, before concluding, mention was not made of the many organisations and individuals who have voluntarily given freely of their time and effort in promoting the welfare of the hospital, the staff and the patients, in particular:-

  • The League of Friends
  • The Women’s Royal Voluntary Service
  • The Ladies Voluntary Library Committee
  • The National Hospital Service Reserve
  • The Voluntary Escort Service

F Gowers
Hospital Secretary

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