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Southend Hospital celebrates 90 years of care

Southend Hospital 1932

Today (July 26) marks 90 years since Southend Hospital first opened its doors or, to be more accurate, 90 years since Lord Iveagh “using the latest device, of pressing an electric button”  - as was noted by one publication at the time - helped the doors of the Southend-on-Sea and District New General Hospital officially open.

The spectacular opening took place in front of 4,000 people, and not even a sudden downpour and rumbles of thunder could stop the outpouring of support from those that gathered on that day in July 1932.

The first patients were admitted to the new hospital from Victoria Hospital on November 13 that same year. There were 45 patients in total, with every ward and department in the new hospital in use.

Since that opening the hospital, now part of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, has continued to grow and develop to deliver the best care in an ever-changing world. As part of one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, the hospital is an integral part of helping deliver care to 1.2 million people.

Hannah Coffey, acting chief executive for the Trust, said: “The building may have opened 90 years ago, but it is the hard working people within the bricks and mortar that are the real heart of the hospital. So, a huge 90th birthday thank you to both current and past Southend Hospital staff, whether they be on the frontline or working to improve the lives of patients behind the scenes.

“There have been huge advancements in healthcare since the hospital first opened and Southend Hospital, and the Trust, will continue to be at the forefront of that. Southend’s important role is recognised by our- continued investment in new facilities, equipment, buildings and staff to help lay the foundations to deliver great care in the next 90 years.”

Anna Firth, MP for Southend West, said: “Happy Birthday Southend Hospital! For 90 years, Southend Hospital has stood at the heart of our community, and all of us who live here owe it a huge debt of gratitude. I got to know the hospital particularly well earlier this year when I abseiled down the side of the tower for charity – I am glad I followed my mother’s advice: don’t look down! 

“My thanks to everyone who works at the hospital, and all of those who have worked so hard over the past 90 years to look after us.”


Southend Hospital timeline

1929: The contract is signed for a new hospital at a cost of £121,185

1932: Southend Hospital opens to the public

1939-1945: Wartime rationing – crops are grown on the hospital grounds

1948: Southend Hospital becomes part of the National Health Service

1971: Tower block extension, which includes a new accident and emergency department, is opened by HRH Princess Anne

1989: New CT scanner unit opens

1991: Southend Hospital becomes a self-governing NHS Trust

1995: Opening of the new £11 million Cardigan Wing extension, home of the hospital’s maternity unit

2001: New £3.4 million A&E department completed

2003: Women’s breast unit opens in The Nightingale Centre

2006: £4.75 million radiotherapy centre opens

2010: £1.1 million expansion of the Education Centre

2020: Southend, Basildon and Broomfield Hospitals merge to form Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust

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