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Royston and District Hospital

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Alternative name(s):
  • Royston Cottage Hospital (Formerly known as)
Date: 1879-1942
History: Royston Cottage Hospital opened in Barkway Road, Royston in 1869. Originally the hospital had four beds although this was later increased to eight. In 1922 a public fund was raised to build a new hospital and this new hospital, situated in London Road, was opened in 1924. The hospital changed its name to Royston and District Hospital in 1924. A new children's ward was opened in 1928.

On 5 July 1948 responsibility for the hospital passed to the Minister of Health, and it came under the control of the South West Group No.1 Hospital Management Committee in the East Anglian Regional Hospital Board. At that time it offered c30 beds for general and maternity use. In 1974 it passed to the North Hertfordshire District Health Authority in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority. In 1992, when it offered 24 beds for the elderly and for general use, it became part of the North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, and later the East and North Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust.
  • Royston, 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; Burdetts and Hospital Yearbooks 1901-1999; A2A online catalogue
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C19301 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O91891 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1879-1942: records incl misc financial records, staff records and misc items
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
NRA 11973 Hertfordshire

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