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You are in: Manchester > Places > NHS at 60 > Trafford General: where it all began

Trafford General: where it all began

Back then, it was Park Hospital. But on 5 July 1948, it became the first hospital in the world to offer free healthcare to all. Today, Trafford General is a busy, modern hospital with hundreds of dedicated staff. Take a look at its unique history:

Park Hospital (c) Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust

1948: Park Hospital on the day the NHS was born

When Aneurin Bevan, the health secretary, opened Park Hospital in Manchester 60 years ago, it was the climax of a hugely ambitious plan. For the first time hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella organisation that was free for all to access at the point of delivery.

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The central principles were clear: the health service would be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which meant that every tax payer contributed to it.


1926: Work began to build the hospital. It was initiated by the Barton-upon-Irwell Union, a body created in 1849 in line with the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834’s requirement for parishes to create unions that would make provision for their poor. 

1928: The hospital opened to patients on 17 December 1928 being officially opened by the first Princess Royal (HRH Princess Mary, Viscountess Lascelles) on 1 June 1929. When the Local Government Act of 1929 got rid of the poor law unions, ownership of the hospital passed to Lancashire County Council. 

1939: the hospital was taken over by the War Department for use by the Armed Forces – first, by British troops and then by the 10th US Station Hospital. It treated services personnel from many nations. Glenn Miller and his US Army Air Force Band entertained troops on the lawns. Boxer Joe Louis was another visitor during that time.  The Americans left in July 1945 and it was de-requisitioned in September 1945.

Nye Bevan (c) Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust

5 July 1948: Sylvia meets Nye Bevan

5 July 1948: the then Health Minister Anuerin 'Nye' Bevan arrived to inaugurate the NHS by symbolically receiving the keys from Lancashire County County. Nurses formed a 'guard of honour' outside the hospital to meet him. The National Health Service was born and, from that day forward, the healthcare of the nation changed forever.

Sylvia Diggory (nee Beckingham) became the first NHS patient – she was 13. Before she died, Sylvia said: "Mr Bevan asked me if I understood the significance of the occasion and told me that it was a milestone in history - the most civilised step any country had ever taken, and a day I would remember for the rest of my life - and of course, he was right."

The hospital also witnessed the first baby born under the NHS, 6lb 11oz Sandra Pook. Now called Sandra Howarth, she lives in nearby Eccles and shares her birthday with the NHS.

Trafford General

1988: re-named Trafford General Hospital in 1988 and is now controlled by Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust, formed in 1994 following a reorganisation of the NHS.  

2008: Today, the hospital has 530 beds, employs 2,100 staff, treats 24,000 in-patients in a year and handles 175,000 outpatient appointments.

Became the first hospital in the UK to introduce a highly innovative system to track blood from the donor to the recipient, improving patient safety for which it received a national Health Award.

Future plans: will be opening the Trafford Diabetes Centre here later in 2008, after successfully fundraising £250,000 with the help of local people.  The centre will be the hub for diabetes care in Trafford.

last updated: 03/07/2008 at 17:40
created: 03/07/2008

You are in: Manchester > Places > NHS at 60 > Trafford General: where it all began

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