- 1968-1999 (Creation)
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The need for a new general hospital for York was already recognised in 1948, although the York ‘A’ Group Hospital Management Committee acknowledged that this could not be a reality until post-war building restrictions had eased. The HMC envisaged that the Deighton Grove estate might serve as a future site, and indeed, the York County Hospital governors who had acquired the estate in 1947 had also viewed it as the site of a hospital for the future, in rural surroundings, away from the unhealthy urban centre.
Not until 1960-1, after funds had begun to be made available to the NHS for large scale capital developments, was it agreed by the Minister of Health and the Leeds Regional Hospital Board that York would have its new general hospital. A central location was favoured, and the site chosen comprised the 20 or so acres behind Bootham Park Hospital, which had been part of the Bootham Park estate (and which the Bootham Park governors had been on the verge of selling just before the NHS came into being).
The original plan envisaged that the hospital would be built between the financial years 1966/7 to 1970/1. This would be a 500 - 600 bedded hospital with the major acute specialties and A & E and out-patient services. Further re-development, involving either the building of a second hospital on an undetermined site or major additions to the City Hospital site, would follow afterwards. In 1962, the plan for the new hospital, with 800 beds, was included in the White Paper A Hospital Plan for England and Wales.
In 1965 the Ministry of Health approved the inclusion of the new York hospital in Leeds Regional Hospital Board’s capital programme for 1970-1975. The architects appointed by the Leeds Regional Board were the firm of Llewelyn Davies, Weeks Forestier-Walker and Bor. From 1966 onwards, detailed planning of the new hospital began and building work commenced in 1971. It was intended to build the hospital in three phases beginning with Phase I between 1971 and 1976. Phase I was for 348 acute beds, including children’s beds, together with the bulk of the diagnostic, treatment and service facilities for the complete hospital; Phase II, to follow on, would be for a further 464 acute beds and the remainder of the supporting services. Phase III, added later, would be for a comprehensive maternity unit with 150 beds, ante-natal clinic, special care baby unit, theatre and labour suite. In 1971 Leeds Regional Board decided that Phases I and II should run together, with both of them completed and commissioned by 1976.
The main intention of the design of the hospital was that it should be a structure which could be flexible enough to incorporate future growth and change. Most of the hospital buildings were to be fairly low rise (the central administrative and training block the tallest at six storeys; with ward blocks four storeys high and many of the other buildings lower); with a framework of communication routes linking the different areas of the hospital, including a quarter of a mile long primary spine corridor (‘main street’) off which secondary departmental corridors would branch at right angles. Use was made of roof lighting and internal courtyards to maximize light, and most departments were designed with some expansion space. Two entrances were created off Wigginton Road, one, the main entrance, for patients, staff and visitors, and another for goods and service traffic.
The York District Hospital opened in stages in 1976-7. In July 1976 the nurse education centre was the first stage to open, in the main administrative block; the out-patients department opened in September; and in-patients were transferred to the new wards in four major moves between November 1976 and January 1977, each move involving the closure of other hospitals. Some other facilities followed later: for example, the ante-natal clinic at County Hospital was not transferred until December 1980. The hospital was officially opened by Princess Alexandra on 28 July 1977.
The new hospital cost £10,500,000 to build and a further £2,000,000 to equip. It occupied 20 out of the 22 acres on the site and it accommodated over 1,600 staff. The scale of the hospital, with 812 beds in thirty wards, was larger than anything ever seen in York - the two largest hospitals it replaced only had 200 beds each. The new hospital had ten operating theatres in the main theatre block, compared to no more than two on any one site previously. The hospital brought a far greater centralisation of staff and services to York’s health service, and represented a dramatic change for both staff and patients. It also introduced new and modern equipment, and increased space, expanding the diagnostic and therapeutic facilities for all departments. It replaced a total of nine hospitals: York County Hospital, York City Hospital, Military Hospital, Fulford Hospital, Acomb Hospital, Poppleton Gate, Deighton Grove, Fairfield Hospital and Yearsley Bridge Hospital.
The scheme to add maternity facilities on the hospital site commenced in June 1981. This involved the building of a delivery suite and special care baby unit, the conversion of existing wards to ante-natal and post-natal wards, and the creation of a new maternity entrance. The maternity unit opened in 1983, replacing Fulford Maternity Hospital.
York District Hospital (now called York Hospital) is still the main acute hospital in York and district. Since its opening, there have been many developments, arising out of three interlinked factors. First, new technologies, methods and therapeutics have led to the provision of extra or improved or new facilities at the hospital. So, for example, a new, expanded day surgery and treatment unit opened in 1992 to underline the increased emphasis on day surgery; a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit, utilising private finance, opened in 1996 in an extension at the front of the hospital; another extension at the front of the hospital accommodates a breast screening unit; a new neurology out-patient unit opened in 1996; a renal unit for kidney dialysis opened in 1999. Secondly, the role of the acute hospital is changing. While certain treatments and services can now be devolved to other sites such as GP surgeries, community hospitals and clinics, the District Hospital is becoming a more specialist centre, with fewer beds, shorter stays, expanded out-patient and day-patient facilities, high-tech screening and diagnostic facilities, serving patients from a wider geographical area. The hospital has already become a county centre for a range of specialist treatments, and collaboration with other Trusts for the joint provision of services is increasing. Thirdly, after a major review of services in 1993-4, the hospital is being updated and modernised. Patient admissions have more than doubled since the 1970s. A replacement hospital would be prohibitively expensive, so the hospital is now being reconfigured, in a series of capital schemes over a number of years, to take account of its busier and more specialist role, as well as the need for more out-patient and day-patient space, and the desire to meet higher expectations of patient accommodation.
Within the ward block, specialties are being grouped together in a more rational and efficient manner. The first stage of this involved the ground floor wards, which were redesigned and refurbished in the 1995-6, to bring all gynaecological and obstetric wards and related services together: the resulting upgraded and self contained maternity and gynaecological unit was opened in 1996. In 1995-6 a revamp took place of the second floor and part of the third floor, to develop and group together elderly wards, including services transferred from City Hospital.
Upgrading of facilities at the hospital is an ongoing programme. A refurbishment of the coronary care unit took place in 1998. The year 2000 saw a number of capital schemes beginning or planned. These included the beginning of the first floor ward review with the provision of a new, larger endoscopy unit in what had previously been administrative office space, in order to free space in the day surgery unit for further expansion. A major upgrading has taken place in the accident and emergency department; and a redesign and modernisation of the main entrance and reception area has followed (completed in 2003).
York District Hospital was re-named York Hospital in 2003. It currently has 718 beds and a comprehensive range of acute services including a 58 bedded maternity unit, a ten bedded adult critical care unit (including four high dependency bed,) and an eight bedded coronary care unit and accident and emergency department.
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