The hospital was established by Bank of Credit and Commerce International to provide healthcare for the Abu Dhabi royal family in April 1981. The finance for the construction of this purpose-built facility was arranged by Pakistani banker and philanthropist Agha Hasan Abedi. The hospital had been bought by the private health and care specialist Bupa and renamed as the "Bupa Cromwell Hospital" in 2008. Bupa have devoted marketing effort towards positioning the hospital as a health destination for patients from the Middle East.
The hospital has established an international reputation for treating liver and kidney infections. In 1987, two Rover SD1s of the Metropolitan Police Service set a record by transporting a liver transplant from London Stansted Airport to the hospital, completing the 27 mile journey in under 30 minutes, to save the life of Ms Aliza Hillel in a journey subsequently nick-named the Liver Run.
Patients have included:
- The Nigerian musician and playwright Chief Hubert Ogunde, who died at the hospital in April 1990
- The English actress Margaret Lockwood, who died from liver disease in the hospital in July 1990
- The Pakistani musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who died from a cardiac arrest at the hospital in August 1997
- The former footballer and alcoholic George Best, who died from multiple organ failure at the hospital in November 2005
- The former First Lady of Kenya Lucy Kibaki, who died of a heart attack at the hospital in April 2016
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- "Rich overseas patients help private hospitals beat recession". Financial Times. 12 April 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
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- "M. Lockwood; British Film Actress, Star of 'Lady Vanishes'". LA Times. 17 July 1990. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
- Rose, Cynthia (19 August 1997). "Nusrat's Passing Leaves Void in the Music World". Seattle Times. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- "Living in the grip of alcohol". BBC News. 4 February 2013.
- Ben Fenton (26 Nov 2005). "George was just natural and very nice . . . people liked him for that'". London: Daily Telegraph.
- "Former First Lady Lucy Kibaki dies in London hospital". Daily Nation. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2018.