Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases

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Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases
Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust
Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Combe Park (geograph 6309037).jpg
Entrance to the 2019 building at Combe Park
Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases is located in Somerset
Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases
Shown in Somerset
LocationBath, Somerset, England
Coordinates51°23′30″N 2°23′23″W / 51.3916°N 2.3898°W / 51.3916; -2.3898Coordinates: 51°23′30″N 2°23′23″W / 51.3916°N 2.3898°W / 51.3916; -2.3898
Care systemNHS
Emergency departmentNo
Links Edit this at Wikidata
ListsHospitals in England

The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases is a small, specialist NHS hospital on the Royal United Hospital (RUH) site in the northwestern outskirts of Bath, England.

The hospital was founded in 1738 as a general hospital for the poor in the city centre, where the frontage of its building still reads Royal Mineral Water Hospital. Thus it is known locally as "The Mineral Hospital" or "The Min". The hospital moved to a new building at the RUH site in 2019.


From the 16th century, the needs of the "deserving poor" who came to take the healing waters of the Roman Baths were recognised and an act of 1597 gave them the right to free use of the waters.[1] This attracted beggars and, although the act was repealed in 1714, large numbers of people were still attracted to the city and St John's Hospital was only accessible to local residents. Plans were suggested for a hospital to receive them in 1716 with supporters who included Lady Elizabeth Hastings, Henry Hoare, Joseph Jekyll, William Oliver and Beau Nash.[2]

The hospital was founded in 1738 as The Mineral Water Hospital.[3] It provided care for the impoverished sick who were attracted to Bath because of the supposed healing properties of the mineral water from the spa. The original building, which was designed by John Wood the Elder, was built with Bath stone donated by Ralph Allen and completed in 1742.[3] It was later enlarged, firstly in 1793 by the addition of an attic storey and later in 1860 by a second building erected on the west side of the earlier edifice.[3][4] There is a fine pediment, in Bath stone, on the 1860 building depicting the parable of the Good Samaritan.[3] The building was classified as Grade II* listed in 1972.[3]

In 2003, the hospital became an NHS Foundation Trust, specialising in rheumatic disease and rehabilitation, which received a three-star rating in 2005. The hospital had a large brain injury rehabilitation service with separate units for adults, adolescents and children; this service closed in March 2013 as a result of financial pressures.[5]

The hospital was named by the Health Service Journal as the best acute specialist trust to work for in 2015. At that time it had 208 full-time equivalent staff and a sickness absence rate of 3.18%. 91% of staff recommended it as a place for treatment and 79% recommended it as a place to work.[6]

Royal United Hospitals[edit]

It was announced in January 2015 that the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust would be taken over by Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, after financial debts had built up toward £2 million.[7][8] During 2015 and 2016, some services were transferred to the Royal United Hospital (RUH), including endoscopy and children's services.[9]

Construction started on a building at the RUH's Combe Park site in November 2017, to house the Royal National Hospital and the Brownsword Therapies centre. The first departments from the Mineral Hospital and the RUH transferred to the new building in September 2019,[10] and all services were transferred to the RUH site by the end of that year.[11] Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who is President of the Royal Osteoporosis Society, formally opened the hospital and therapies centre on 22 October 2019.[12]

Five 18th-century oil paintings from the Mineral Water Hospital were re-hung at the RUH,[13] notably a work of William Hoare titled Dr Oliver and Mr Pierce examining patients with Paralysis, Rheumatism and Leprosy.[14]


The hospital provides local rheumatology services, and also has specialist clinics and services which attract referrals from a national population. Specialist rheumatology clinics include connective tissue disease, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and Paget's disease. The hospital is a regional centre of excellence for the treatment of lupus.[15]

Nationally commissioned specialist services include:

  • Bath Centre for Fatigue Service – for adults experiencing longstanding fatigue linked to a variety of illnesses[16]
  • Bath Centre for Pain Services – pain rehabilitation for people with chronic pain, of all ages[17]
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Service and the Complex Cancer Late Effects Rehabilitation Service – intensive rehabilitation for adults who are living with complex regional pain syndrome or the late effects of cancer treatment[18]

Future of Mineral Hospital building[edit]

Part of the former hospital in the city centre

The historic city centre site at Upper Borough Walls was offered for sale by the RUH Trust in 2017.[19] It was bought by Versant Developments & Homes of Winchester, who sold it on to Singapore-based Fragrance Group in January 2018 for £21.5M.[20] Fragrance Group, which owns other historic hotels in England, plans to convert the building into a hotel by removing 20th-century additions and building an extension, while protecting Roman features.[21][22]

The planning committee of Bath and North East Somerset Council rejected an application by Fragrance Group in September 2020, amid criticism of the size and height of a proposed extension.[23]


Some records relating to the hospital are held at Bath Record Office and the Somerset Archives.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases". Bath Heritage. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  2. ^ Falconer, Randle (1888). History of the Royal Mineral Water Hospital, Bath. Bath: Royal Mineral Water Hospital. p. 11.
  3. ^ a b c d e Historic England. "Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases and Royal Mineral Water Hospital, with railings  (Grade II*) (1395448)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  4. ^ Historic England. "Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (443857)". Images of England. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007.
  5. ^ Murray, Kate (26 March 2013). "NHS brain injury services cuts are 'heartbreaking', say staff". Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  6. ^ "HSJ reveals the best places to work in 2015". Health Service Journal. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Takeover at Bath Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases". BBC News. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  8. ^ Amanda Cameron (28 January 2015). "The Min hospital in Bath finally comes under the wing of the city's Royal United Hospital". Bath Chronicle. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Contact us". Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  10. ^ "First services move into new RNHRD and Brownsword Therapies Centre". Bath Echo. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Our Progress". Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  12. ^ "The Duchess of Cornwall officially opens £20m RNHRD Centre at the RUH". Bath Echo. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Mineral Water Hospital's historic paintings given new home at the RUH". Bath Echo. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  14. ^ "An eighteenth century consultation". Medical Heritage of Great Britain. Retrieved 24 June 2006.
  15. ^ "Centres of Excellence". LUPUS UK. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  16. ^ "Bath Centre for Fatigue Services". Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Bath Centre for Pain Services". Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  18. ^ "The National CRPS and Complex Cancer Late Effects Rehabilitation Service, Bath". Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  19. ^ Crawley, James (20 March 2017). "Student accommodation? A new hotel? The Min in central Bath has been put up for sale". Bath Chronicle. Archived from the original on 20 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  20. ^ Sumner, Stephen; Gladwin, Anna (25 July 2019). "Plans revealed to turn historic Bath hospital into luxury hotel". somersetlive. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  21. ^ Sumner, Stephen (8 October 2019). "Plans to transform The Min into 169-bed hotel with extension go on show". Bath Echo. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  22. ^ "The Min Exhibition". Fragrance UK – Bath Limited. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Controversial plans to transform historic former hospital into hotel refused". Bath Echo. 25 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  24. ^ "Details: Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath". Hospital Records Database. The National Archives. Retrieved 19 February 2021.

External links[edit]