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Letchworth Hospital

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Alternative name(s):
  • Letchworth Garden City Hospital (Formerly known as)
Date: 1915-1973
History: Before 1914 Letchworth had been served by the Letchworth Provident Dispensary, but with the expansion of Letchworth Garden City it was considered that the town needed a hospital. The original plans for a cottage hospital were hampered by the outbreak of the First World War. Letchworth Hospital was founded in Letchworth Garden City in 1914 by the Letchworth Garden City Hospital Association, an incorporated company. The hospital was financed, like other voluntary hospitals, by subscriptions and donations, but the Board of Management found it difficult to maintain financially and spent much of its time fund-raising. It was originally housed in temporary premises in Pixmore Farm House, but provided only out-patient clinics rather than in-patient wards. In 1921 the hospital moved to permanent premises in Baldock Road.

On 5 July 1948 responsibility for the hospital passed to the Minister of Health under the responsibility of the Luton and Hitchin Group No.2 Hospital Management Committee in the North West Metropolitan Hospital Board. At this time there were beds for 32 patients. In 1974 it passed to the control of the North Hertfordshire District Health Authority in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority. The number of beds fell to 1922 in 1977, and it would seem that the hospital was closed c1990.
  • Letchworth, Hertfordshire
Sources of authority: National Health Service Act 1946
Functions, occupations and activities: Health and social care > Hospitals
Historical context: The first voluntary hospitals came into being in England to provide care for the poor after the Reformation, taking over the role previously performed by the monastic orders. Voluntary hospitals were privately endowed, often by a local landowner, but subsequently maintained by subscriptions and donations. Anyone was open to subscribe, and then became known as a governor or subscriber which entitled them to certain privileges. A Board of Management was appointed from the governors to administer the daily running of the hospital, usually with the help of a House Committee and a Finance Committee. Many local organizations adopted the hospitals and held fetes, garden parties and other fund raising events to raise money for the maintenance of the hospital and especially for the purchase of equipment. Many of the hospitals had contributory schemes which entitled a member of the scheme to medical treatment. The voluntary hospitals, unlike the large sprawling workhouse infirmaries, were usually small, containing as few as six or seven beds in some cases, and served the "deserving" poor of the immediate area. Voluntary hospitals would not generally admit the destitute or "undeserving" poor. In the early days of the voluntary hospitals the medical staff were usually unpaid, but it was considered to be prestigious to be appointed to the medical staff, who often maintained themselves by private practice. The nursing staff were on the whole either "Nightingale" nurses or had been trained at other nursing establishments. Voluntary hospitals could chose which patients to admit (then referring all other cases to the workhouse), and if their beds were full they could refuse to admit patients altogether. They did not take the chronic infirm, infectious cases or long term sick patients. Most of the voluntary hositals started life in cottages or other buildings, which were either bought by the governors or left by the benefactor. As the hospitals became more financially stable and more prestigious they were able to finance larger, purpose built buildings, often in the pavilion style with high ceilings and lofty corridors. On July 5th 1948 control of the voluntary hospitals passed from the Board of Management and therefore the local community to the Minister of Health.
References: Hosprec database
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C26651 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O91889 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1915-55: records incl minutes of various committes, address books of nurses, visitor books and hospital association register of members
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
NRA 11973 Hertfordshire
1950-1973: various records
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

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Related record creators
  Record creator Description of relationship Dates Category of relationship
Letchworth Hospital was managed by the Luton and Hitchin Hospital Management Committee
Letchworth Hospital came under the control of the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board
Letchworth Hospital came under the authority of the North West Thames Regional Health Authority