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Northampton and Kettering general hospitals celebrate NHS 75

MR1404 Old NGH nurses c1950s
Today Northampton and Kettering general hospitals are looking back on 75 years of caring for our local communities and celebrating the vital role we play.

Since 1948 our two hospitals have expanded from employing a few hundred staff to more than 10,000 in a mind-boggling array of different disciplines.

Services hardly dreamed of are now commonplace including:

  • A pioneering Surgical Robot at NGH which enables difficult surgeries in hard-to-reach areas with better outcomes for patients and shorter stays in hospital.
  • A 24/7 heart attack service at KGH where lives can be saved by fitting tiny stents into arteries within minutes of patients arriving by ambulance
  • A specialist stroke centre at NGH providing vital life-saving care and specialist rehabilitation to help patients on the road to recovery
  • State-of-the-art imaging systems like CT and MRI which enable doctors to detect cancers and heart and brain problems with great accuracy to enable the right treatments
  • Expert surgeons supported by hi-tech equipment are able to deliver procedures like key-hole surgery reducing the need for long stays in hospital – with many patients now able to go home the same day
  • State-of-the-art intensive care units at both KGH and NGH supporting our local populations during the Covid pandemic. KGH was the first district general hospital in England to develop an intensive care unit in 1962
  • Huge developments in the treatment of arthritis with much better drugs and routine joint-replacement surgeries.
  • New drug treatments supported by our teams of specialist pharmacists
  • Millions of tests being performed in our hospital laboratories which help provide early warnings and enable treatment before conditions become more serious.

All of these amazing technological and service developments cannot operate without skilled staff, many who have trained for years to be able to deliver care to the NHS’s high standards.

And the services themselves cannot operate without an army of support staff in areas such as estates, housekeeping, finance, human resources and information technology, whose often unseen hands enable the hospitals to keep running at full speed to meet the growing demands for care.

Heidi Smoult, Chief Executive of Northampton General Hospital, said: “The NHS is something I am very proud to be part of and I am so very proud of our teams, who deliver such amazing care to our communities every day.

“Seeing how far the NHS has come over the last 75 years is incredible and the innovation our people show to progress healthcare for the benefit of our patients and communities even further is awe-inspiring.

“I cannot imagine what my predecessor in 1948 would have thought of the surgical robot that we use to deliver state-of-the-art cancer care in Northampton every day.

“We are dedicated to delivering excellence for our patients and our teams. I have been fortunate enough to experience a variety of roles in the NHS, from starting my career as a midwife to currently leading Northampton General Hospital, and during each step I have been proud to be part of our NHS team.

“I have been fortunate to work with many incredibly inspiring people who have shown a dedication to the NHS and its purpose, and taught me the importance of focussing on truly making a difference to our communities. 

“We of course could not do this without the support of our communities supporting us. So, while we celebrate our 75th year as your National Health Service, I also want to add a huge thanks to both our communities who continue to support our teams and to each and every person working in NGH and the NHS.”

Partnership between KGH and NGH is becoming ever more important and in July 2021 we formed the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group.

This means both hospitals are now working more closely than ever before together – and with our health and social care partners – to ensure we develop patient services that are fair and accessible to everyone who needs them in the county.

As a hospital group we are also working with our university partners to develop more research and development opportunities. This will help our patients to get access to the latest treatments and help us to give our staff rewarding careers.

As we embrace incredible new technologies such as artificial intelligence our abilities to provide better care will continue at pace.

History of NGH

1948 – Northampton General Hospital, formerly a voluntary hospital, becomes part of the NHS with state funding. In its first year it receives funds from The War Memorial Fund to build a new outpatients department.

1950s – In 1952 it developed a steam extraction plant for its kitchens. In 1953 it bought TV sets for patients for the Queen’s Coronation. In 1956 the Queen Mother lays the foundation stone to the new outpatients department. In 1957 it deals with a flu epidemic and extends its ophthalmic department and in 1959 the new outpatients department opens.

1960s – In 1962 we open a pioneering new radiotherapy department and in 1963 make national news when we receive a patient by helicopter. In 1964 we get a visit from Gerry and the Pacemakers and in 1965 open our new premature baby unit. In 1966 we do our first gastroscopy operation and in 1967 open our intensive care unit. This is followed in 1968 by our pathology lab and in 1969 by the Post Graduate Medical Centre.

1970s – In 1972 the hospital gets a ‘new look’ Billing Road entrance and in 1973 starts to extend the hospital’s buildings. In 1975 the hospital plans to modernise its maternity facilities but struggles with funding with the health authority £600,000 over budget the following year. In 1979 we open A&E and 129 beds in our hospital extension.

1980s – In 1980 the hospital gets its first linear accelerator to target cancer tumours with high intensity x-rays and performs key-hole surgery for the first time. In 1981 we announce four new wards are to be built and in 1982 open the second phase of the hospital extension. Further developments in the late 1980s include upgraded pathology labs, a new colposcopy clinic for cervical cancer, a CT scanner, and an artificial limbs centre

1990s – In 1992 we open a new nuclear medicine suite. In 1993 the hospital is granted NHS Trust status formally becoming a Trust the following year. In 1995 the hospital opens its MRI scanning unit. In the late 1990s developments included a new admissions unit and integrated surgery centre. In 1999 it opens a new stroke unit.

2000s – In 2001 Earl Spencer opens the new oncology centre. The following year we start work on a new day case and theatre unit. In 2004 we get the first of three new linear accelerators and we open new student accommodation and a library in the William Kerr building.

2021 – The hospital opens its new south entrance with a staffed reception desk and popular high-street brand stores including Costa Coffee, Subway®, Stock Shop and an M&S Food store.

2021 – HRH Princess Anne opens the hospital’s £2.9m Paediatric Emergency Department to serve the 28,000 children who need to use emergency care each year.

2022 – The hospital opens its new £16m state-of-the-art Critical Care Unit with 16 specialist beds, five specialist isolation rooms, a relatives room, and better facilities for staff to work and rest in.

2023 – Now we have 790 beds and a 24-hour Emergency Department (A&E) caring for more than 140,000 patients each year. In addition we have a full range of district general hospital care and some specialist services including providing cancer and stroke services for the county. About 140,000 patients a year are referred to us for treatment.

Posted on Wednesday 5th July 2023
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