Royal Free Hospital

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Royal Free Hospital
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Free Hospital.JPG
Geography
Location Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°33′36.47″N 0°11′11.28″W / 51.5601306°N 0.1864667°W / 51.5601306; -0.1864667Coordinates: 51°33′36.47″N 0°11′11.28″W / 51.5601306°N 0.1864667°W / 51.5601306; -0.1864667
Organisation
Care system Public NHS
Hospital type Teaching
Affiliated university

University College London

Middlesex University
Services
Emergency department Yes Accident & Emergency
Beds 839
History
Founded 1828, 1970s present site
Links
Website http://www.royalfree.nhs.uk
Lists Hospitals in the United Kingdom

The Royal Free Hospital (also known simply as the Royal Free) is a major teaching hospital in Hampstead, London. The hospital is part of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, which is a member of the UCL Partners academic health science centre and also runs services at Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital and a number of other sites.

It was rated 'excellent' for quality of services and 'good' for quality of financial management by the Healthcare Commission in 2009.[1]

The nearest London Underground station is Belsize Park, and the hospital is situated very near Hampstead Heath station on the London Overground.

History[edit]

The Royal Free Hospital was founded in 1828 by the surgeon William Marsden to provide, as its name indicates, free care to those of little means. It is said that one evening, Marsden found a young girl lying on the steps of St. Andrew's Church, Holborn, dying from disease and hunger and sought help for her from one of the nearby hospitals. However, none would take the girl in and she died two days later. After this experience Marsden set up a small dispensary at 16 Greville Street, Holborn, called the London General Institution for the Gratuitous Care of Malignant Diseases. A royal charter was granted by Queen Victoria in 1837 after a cholera epidemic in which the hospital had extended care to many victims. As demand for in-patient facilities increased, it was constituted as the Royal Free Hospital, and moved to Gray's Inn Road in the 1840s.[2] Another building in Liverpool Road, Islington, was used as an isolation hospital. Marsden also founded the Free Cancer Hospital in Westminster in 1851, renamed The Royal Marsden Hospital in 1954. In 1974 the Royal Free facilities at Islington and Holborn were combined and moved to the current 12-storey cruciform tower block, built on the site of the former Hampstead General Hospital and the North Western Fever Hospital.

Former site in Gray's Inn Road, subsequently the Eastman Dental Hospital.

The hospital houses part of the UCL Medical School and its associated medical research facilities. The Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, since August 1998 a part of the UCL Medical School, was the first to train female doctors in the United Kingdom; the Royal Free Hospital was the first teaching hospital in London to admit women for training.

Significant advances in the fields of liver medicine (hepatology) and transplantation; renal disease and dialysis; haematology and haemophilia have been made at the Royal Free, and the trust now treats all patients needing dialysis in north and central London. The professorial department of liver medicine is recognised as one of the leading research units of its type in the world. It was founded by Professor Dame Sheila Sherlock.

The Royal Free was the first hospital in the UK to appoint a consultant in HIV medicine, in 1989. Dr. Margaret Johnson, a specialist in thoracic medicine, built the Royal Free Centre for HIV Medicine, which is at the forefront of treatment of HIV-AIDS. The out-patients' centre was opened in 1992 by the actor Sir Ian McKellen and is named after the actor Ian Charleson. Its garden, where patients can relax, was opened by Elton John in 2003.

Royal Free disease[edit]

In 1955 an apparent outbreak of an infectious illness categorised with a fever and subsequent persisting fatigue affected 292 members of staff and forced the hospital's closure between 25 July and 5 October. In the 1980s there was some debate as to whether the episode was of an infectious cause, or just an example of mass hysteria.[3] The outbreak turned out to be a notable case in the UK of myalgic encephalomyelitis[4] and resulted in the coining of that disease name.

MMR vaccine controversy[edit]

The Royal Free viewed from Parliament Hill, London.

In February 1998, the Royal Free held a press conference to coincide with the publication in The Lancet of a paper by Andrew Wakefield who claimed to have found a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This started a controversy which led to a crisis in public confidence over MMR and a fall in uptake of the vaccine. Wakefield left the medical school in October 2001 and was later struck off the UK medical register by the General Medical Council[5] following an investigation by The Sunday Times newspaper into the MMR issue.[6][7]

In fiction[edit]

ca. 1891, nurse and patient in the accident ward of the Royal Free Hospital

The London Encyclopaedia's entry "Royal Free Hospital" is reprinted as an integral part of Doris Lessing's last book Alfred and Emily (2008). The entry is placed third and last among the textual items between "Part One" and "Part Two" of the work. While this section has a title of its own, "From The London Encyclopaedia ...", there is a photo without any caption directly following on the entry's last reprinted page which does not appear in the encyclopedia. It shows a hospital room, with a male patient in bed looking into the camera, and a female nurse seated on the far side who is busy knitting. The topic of the entry links to both the life Emily is leading in part one and her life in part two of Lessing's book, as well as to the life Alfred is leading in part two.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Healthcare Commission - Annual Health Check rating for 2008/09 - Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust
  2. ^ Lynne A. Amidon, Illustrated History of the Royal Free Hospital (London: Special Trustees of the Royal Free Hospital, 1996)
  3. ^ Dawson J (February 1987). "Royal Free disease: perplexity continues". Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 294 (6568): 327–8. doi:10.1136/bmj.294.6568.327. PMC 1245346. PMID 3028544. 
  4. ^ A. Melvin Ramsay (1986). Postviral Fatigue Syndrome. The saga of Royal Free disease. Londen: Gower. ISBN 0-906923-96-4. 
  5. ^ James Meikle, Sarah Boseley (24 May 2010). "MMR row doctor Andrew Wakefield struck off register". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Deer, Brian (2004-02-22). "Revealed: MMR research scandal". The Times (London: The Sunday Times). Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  7. ^ Deer B (2009-02-08). "MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism". Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 2009-02-09. [dead link]
  8. ^ Doris Lessing: Alfred and Emily, Hodder & Stoughton/Fourth Estate, London 2008, pp. 145-148, ISBN 978-0-00-723345-8

External links[edit]