Retro: Trio fought for better care for city children

The Children's Hospital, Sheffield
The Children's Hospital, Sheffield
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Most Sheffielders would recognise a teddy bear with his eye bandaged and his arm in a sling as Theo, the mascot of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital charity.

The much-loved hospital began life as the Sheffield Free Hospital for Sick Children in 1876 in a rented property, Brightmore House on Brook Hill.

The Children's Hospital, Sheffield'Picture shows hospital staff (from left) Karen Allinson, Ward Assistant and Sally Goodison, Nursery Nurse, as they play with little Shabana Kosser of sheffield who was waiting for treatment - 1989

The Children's Hospital, Sheffield'Picture shows hospital staff (from left) Karen Allinson, Ward Assistant and Sally Goodison, Nursery Nurse, as they play with little Shabana Kosser of sheffield who was waiting for treatment - 1989

The hospital was the brainchild of a city doctor, William Jackson Cleaver, architect John Dodsley Webster and solicitor Henry Vickers.

The aims of the hospital were to treat sick children, to gain and spread knowledge of childhood diseases, to give advice to the poorer classes for the better care of children and to train women as children’s nurses.

There was some opposition voiced at the time as the city already three charitably-maintained hospitals – the Royal Infirmary, the Royal Hospital and the Jessop Hospital for Women.

Many wondered whether the city could support the new hospital at a time when the country’s economy was depressed.

Apparently Florence Nightingale was arguing at that time that sick children should be placed in adult wards.

The hospital soon outgrew Brightmore House and in 1880 moved to Western Bank, changing its name to the Children’s Hospital.

Initially the hospital only treated out-patients but by 1877 eight beds were added for in-patients and 29 were taken in during that year.

The original buildings were much added to over the years and by 1903 it had 50 beds for in-patients.

Links were forged with the University of Sheffield from its very founding in 1905, with students taking courses taught by hospital house surgeons. The Department of Child Health was established in 1947.

The Princess of Wales opened a new part of the hospital in 1989 and a second phase was completed a decade later. The extensions enabled the accident and emergency department for children to be moved from the Northern General Hospital in 1994.

In 1893 the East End Branch Hospital opened in Nursery Street to treat patients from that area of the city.

It closed in 1931, when one ward at the main hospital was named the Eastern Ward and reserved for patients from the East End of Sheffield.

The Thornbury Annexe in Fulwood Road was set up as a medical annexe, isolation ward and convalescent home, opening in 1951 with 50 beds.

In 1982 the annexe was sold off for development as a private hospital.

The Ryegate Annexe in Manchester Road, another convalescent home, was donated to the Children’s Hospital in 1936.

In 2006 it was renamed as Ryegate Children’s Centre.

The Children’s Hospital now treats around 245,000 patients a year and has become an internationally-known centre of excellence.

It is changing yet again, with the Make It Better appeal launched last year to raise £10 million towards a £40 million revamp.

Construction has begun on a new wing at the hospital, which will include an outpatients’ department, modern wards and facilities, a new main entrance and a large ‘play tower’.

The new outpatients department is expected to be open this autumn with the whole scheme finished by summer 2016.

Nick Jeffrey, chairman of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said last year: “The existing building is no longer fit for purpose, and this organisation has had to take the risk of borrowing a significant amount of money to build a new facility fit for the next generation of patients.”