Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (1933–2010)

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Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.jpg
The hospital, from the south
Location Edgbaston, Birmingham, England
Coordinates Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
Care system NHS
Affiliated university University of Birmingham
Founded 1933 (1933)
Closed 2010 (2010)
Website www.uhb.nhs.uk
Lists Hospitals in England

The original Queen Elizabeth Hospital was an NHS hospital in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham situated very close to the University of Birmingham. It was replaced by the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital, nearby.

The hospital provided a range of services including secondary services for its local population and regional and national services for the people of the West Midlands and beyond. The hospital had the largest renal transplant programme in the UK,[1] and was a major specialist centre for liver, heart and lung transplantation, neuroscience and a specialist cancer centre.

Origins of the hospital and the medical school

A variety of charitable hospitals opened in Birmingham between 1817, when the Orthopaedic Hospital opened, and 1881, when the Skin Hospital served its first patients. One of these, Queens Hospital, established in 1840 by a local surgeon William Sands Cox, was predominantly for clinical instruction for the medical students of Birmingham. In 1884 these institutions, including Cox’s medical school, united as part of the University of Birmingham, on its new campus in Edgbaston.

History of the hospital in the 20th and 21st century

In 1922, Alderman W. A. Cadbury opposed the extension of the General Hospital in the city centre, and a new hospital in Edgbaston was proposed. Five years later an Executive Board for the building of this hospital, at an estimated cost of £1,000,000, was formed. Around 5/6ths of the money was to be dedicated to the hospital and one sixth to the University for the construction of the Medical School and in 1929 plans were drawn up for a 600-bed centre that would encourage clinical teaching of medicine, surgery, therapeutics, midwifery, diseases of women, ophthalmology, ENT, orthopaedics, dermatology, venereal disease and radiology. Britain was then in a period of financial crisis and there was controversy over the expense, so in April 1930 an appeal to build the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was launched and by the following year donations exceeded £600,000 enabling construction to start in 1933. The building ultimately cost £1,029,057, which was £129,406 less than the money raised by donations.[1]

The site of the hospital, which is adjacent to the remains of the Roman Metchley Fort, was presented by Cadbury Brothers in 1930. Building began in 1933, and the foundation stone was laid by Edward, Prince of Wales on 23 October 1934. It was designed by Thomas Arthur Lodge with 840 bed spaces, 100 of which were for paying patients. Some wards had 2 or 4 beds but others for ‘regular’ patients held up to 16. When opened on 31 December 1938 by the Duke of Gloucester and his wife, it consisted of the Vincent Medical Block, the Cadbury Surgical Block, and the Nuffield House Nurses’ Home. It became known as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital when it was officially opened by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 1 March 1939,[2] just over two years after Elizabeth became queen.[3]

During the Second World War the occupancy of the hospital rose significantly from 3,165 to 12,136 as it treated civilian and military casualties and many local businesses and university buildings were converted into extra wards. In 1943 the Neurosurgery Department was established. Penicillin was first used in the hospital in 1944. When the war ended, patient numbers at the hospital began to decrease, with staff treating 6000 inpatients, 20,000 outpatients and another 48,000 casualties during 1945. On any given day the QE had 800 inpatients with an average stay of 25 days.

The government encouraged and approved the establishment of a 65-bed cancer unit at the QE in 1945. In 1948 the hospital became part of the Birmingham United Hospital Group under the National Health Service.

In 1960, the first heart pacemaker in Britain was at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.[1] In 1968 an IBM 1440 electronic digital computer was introduced to improve efficiency. In 1970 development began on the west side of the site, particularly an enlarged radiotherapy department and a new laboratory block. 1974 saw the first renal dialysis at the hospital. In 1982 the Queen Elizabeth Hospital came under the control of the West Midlands Regional Health Authority and in 1995 it was merged with Selly Oak Hospital to become part of the University Hospitals NHS Trust.

In 1997 a new haemophilia unit was opened and Gisela Stuart MP opened the new cardiac laboratories. The turn of the 21st century saw two new developments at the Cancer Centre: in 1999, the Patrick Room opened to give advice and information on the different types of the cancer to patients and carers and 2000 saw the official opening of the Young Person’s Unit. In 2001, the Maxillofacial department and the Cardiac Wellcome Building opened and a year later, Gary Lineker opened the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility. Later that year Julie Walters opened the Breast screening Unit. On 30 June 2004, Selly Oak Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital received Foundation Trust status. In 2008, celebrations marked the 3000th liver transplant at the hospital.[1]

Between June 2010 and November 2011 the services from the Old Queen Elizabeth Hospital were transferred in phases across to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

However, in March 2013, University Hospitals NHS Trust has been forced to re-open part of the old hospital to cope with the increased number of patients. Two wards of 36 beds each, one for men and one for women, were reopened in the part of the old hospital known as West Block.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 ”Clocking Out” display boards at Open Day, QE Hospital 6 November 2010 (based on information provided to the Histories Project by Carl Chinn, the Your Lives project and others)
  2. Chronology of Birmingham
  3. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  4. Birmingham's old Queen Elizabeth Hospital reopened in beds crisis

External links