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The history of the Children's Hospital

The original Sheffield Children's Hospital - Brightmore House on Brook Hill, 1876
The original Sheffield Children's Hospital on Brook Hill, 1876

It is now one of the leading specialist infirmaries for children in the UK, but the Children's Hospital in Sheffield started its life with a handful of beds in a house where the large Brook Hill roundabout now stands.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph wrote on November 16th 1876: "An infirmary for children was opened yesterday at Brightmore House, Brook Hill, the honorary medical officers being Dr Cleaver and Dr O'Keefe." Mr Webster and Mr Vickers were also founders of the hospital.

Several years later the hospital moved a few hundred yards up the road to two semi-detached houses on Western Bank. The current Children's Hospital was built on that site.

The Children's Hospital in Sheffield, pictured in 2009
The Children's Hospital in Sheffield, pictured in 2009

Each year Sheffield Children's NHS Trust cares for around 24,000 inpatients, 89,000 outpatients and more than 51,000 Accident & Emergency admissions. The Trust employs over 2000 staff on multiple sites.*

The Children's Hospital charity and a team of fundraisers generate the finances for a huge range of things from extra equipment that the NHS does not fund, to artwork, decor and general improvements in the hospital environment.

Donate now. Be part of it.

By the time the Children's Hospital had been open for two decades the capacity had increased from just a handful of beds to 44, and this increase was reflected in the admissions figures; in 1876 the number of admissions was 29; 128 years later (2004-5) admissions had reached 19,309.*

Early ward in Sheffield Children's Hospital, 1870s
Early ward in Sheffield Children's Hospital, 1870s

The first X-ray machine and electric lights were installed in 1907 followed by a new operating theatre and electric radiators in the 1920s which replaced the open fires.

In 1927 two new wards were built taking the capacity to 85 beds. The hospital continued to change over the years; the out-patients department was extended, the operating theatre was improved and electric lifts were installed.

In the 1930s a 14-bed baby ward was created and in the 1950s a second operating theatre was built. Alternative therapies became fashionable throughout the 1960s and the Children's Hospital was quick to embrace new techniques, installing a hydrotherapy facility.

The rate of growth did not slow in the 1970s; the A&E department on Western Bank was extended and now 50,000 children come through A&E each year.* In the 1990s the Children's Hospital took on extra patients when the Northern General's children's ward closed.

One of the early wards at the Children's Hospital in Sheffield
One of the early wards at the Children's Hospital in Sheffield

There are now around 140 acute beds in the Children's Hospital, 20 day-care places, 10 wards and departments; seven operating theatres and specialist units for burns and neuro-care.

Cheryl Ridge works on the fundraising team for the hospital's charity: "We're very proud and fortunate to have such a wonderful service in Sheffield. To have this facility on our doorstep is wonderful. The staff are fantastic. You really hear some wonderful stories that come out of the hospital."

Improvements continue, both via NHS funding and through additional money raised by the Children's Hospital Charity. One of the improvements in 2009-2010 is the CT scanner which BBC Sheffield is aiming to raise £500,000 for.

Donate now. Be part of it.

*Source of statistics: Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, September 2009




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