The History of Frenchay Hospital


1998: Thoracic Surgery, the first specialty to move into the hospital after the US forces left, was relocated to the Bristol Royal Infirmary

April 1999: Frenchay and Southmead NHS Trusts merged to become the North Bristol NHS Trust. Frenchay DHQ - the Georgian House - became the HQ of the new Trust.

1999: The Admin buildings near the lime tree drive entrance were demolished and new buildings put up to house the re-located Burden Neurological Unit from the old Stoke Park complex. Completed in 2000.

1999: Ward 29 and the original 1930s school building were demolished in the Spring and a new facility built - the MacMillan centre. Completed in 2000.

1999: Wards 8, 9 and 10 were demolished and a new unit built - the Barbara Russell Children's Unit funded by the Jack & Jill Appeal. Opened May 2000.

1999: The old lodge house near the lime tree drive entrance was taken over by the Frenchay Tuckett Society and turned into the Frenchay Village Museum. Opened April 2000.

2000: Block 95/96 (?used for what in US times) and the adjacent two long blocks, used respectively as a gymnasium and VD ward in US times, and as residences later, were demolished in July. In the roof space of the gymnasium were discovered numerous insignia of the patients' Units.


Some of the Insignia revealed in the roof space

The stable block (circa 1890) of the Georgian house, having become progressively more derelict over the decades, was finally 'rescued'. A year or two earlier the NHS Trust had donated the building to the Multiple Sclerosis Society to be made into a 'Centre of Excellence'. By June 2003 planning permission had been granted for the work and the work itself was hoped to start later in the year. 1.5 million needed to be raised. However, the prospect of total closure of the Frenchay campus was still being actively considered and the MS Soc became unsure about the viability of their scheme. By October 2003 things were still not clear. However, in November, the charity cancelled their plans. The fate of any future MS centre remains unclear. By 2005 there was still no clear future for the building. Things were complicated even more by the uncertainty of the whole site raised by the proposed redevelopment of the hospital services in North Bristol - see below.

During 2004 the whole future of NHS services in and around Bristol was under consideration. Within this was the future of both Frenchay and Southmead hospitals. It was felt that major hospital services should, and could, only be provided on two Bristol sites. Since the BRI was already undergoing major upgrade, this meant that either Frenchay or Southmead would cease to be a major hospital and that all their combined services would be located on one or other site. However, both sites would also contain a 'Community' hospital with out-patient, minor injuries, X-ray facilities and, possibly, some rehabilitation beds.
On 2nd March 2005, following all the consultation that had taken place, the outcome was announced. Southmead was to be the site of the major hospital, along with its Community version. Frenchay would become a Community hospital, with all the changes to be complete within the next 8 years. ?RIP Frenchay hospital?
However, things became very complicated as a result of other Govt initiatives. It became clear that,  because of the 'Patient first' policy, which meant that all patients needing hospital treatment had to be offered a choice of at least 5 hospitals, then it could be that the development of the major hospital at Southmead (or Frenchay, come to that, if that had been the choice) could possibly attract insufficient patients to bring in enough of the planned estimated income.
Further complications were associated with yet another Govt scheme. They had established a purely surgical hospital at Shepton Mallet with plans to build a similar unit 'in close proximity to the M32'. I wonder where that could be?!!

In February 2007 the Govt. finally gave the go-ahead for the Southmead development, with a planned start in 2008 and completion in 2013. In April the future of Cossham Hospital was clarified- it had been Cossham & Frenchay Hospital Management Committee when I started back in 1966 . Here's what appeared in the Evening Post:
"06/04/07. Services at the refurbished hospital will include outpatient clinics, community clinics including physiotherapy, a minor-injury unit, imaging, including x-ray and ultrasound, and a patient information centre.
The plans also include improved accommodation for the Alma Road practice and local authority community care staff based on the site.
The development will mean Kingswood residents will only have to go to major hospitals for more specialist treatments."

In March it was announced NHS South West has put aside 19 million for Cossham hospital's refurbishment. It is expected that work will start in 2009 with completion in 2010 and will contain a stand-alone birth centre run by midwives.

4 Sept 2009
The following article appeared in the on-line edition of the Bristol Evening Post:

"A 13,000 sculpture is due to be installed at Frenchay Hospital to help people find their way around the site.
Charity funds at the hospital will pay for the artwork, which will be used on maps to help patients and visitors recognise where they are. The current direction signs will remain.
It has been designed by local artist Peter Moorhouse, who worked with the public and staff to create the final version.
The 6m-high sculpture, which features three figures representing patients, staff and visitors at the hospital, will be put up later this month.
Ruth Sidgwick, North Bristol NHS Trust's arts programme manager said that maps telling people where their appointments are will include images of the sculpture so that they can use it to navigate their way about the site. Frenchay will be downgraded to a community hospital when the superhospital opens at Southmead in 2014 and many of its services will move to the new building.
A decision has not yet been made about whether the sculpture will stay at Frenchay or will be moved to Southmead and the art team said the public's views would be considered when it came to deciding what to do with the artwork. Ms Sidgwick said: "If you arrive at Frenchay Hospital the site is really confusing. You see blocks of buildings and car parks and navigating around the site is very hard, so we wanted to create something that could possibly become quite iconic and would be quite dramatic and help people in their way finding around the site. "A lot of people arrive at the site quite anxious coming for appointments and quite nervous if they are coming to visit somebody and not being able to get around the site can send stress levels soaring. People get frustrated and take it out on staff and we want to alleviate that as much as possible by putting up something that they can look out for."
Ms Sidgwick said the money used for the sculpture had been put aside for arts projects and was not therefor money that would otherwise have gone towards patient care. She said: "This was money that was donated for the purpose of being spent on art. We don't want people thinking that money spent on that was being taken away from a scanner or something important. "We have an art fund and that is fantastic. "There is national research that shows that art in healthcare has positive benefits and boosts staff morale and the patient environment." Mr Moorhouse has incorporated the red Frenchay soil into the design. The two figures at the base of the sculpture will be left to rust so that they reflect the colour of the local earth while the top section will be made in polished steel and will be lit by spotlights. Ms Sidgwick said: "People at Frenchay feel passionately about their hospital. People live in the community, have worked there, use it as a community hospital and visit it for family and friends. It has a real place in their hearts." The sculpture will be craned into place later this month."

8th February 2010
On this day an exhibition of photos and art work - a time line of the hospital's history - was opened in the main corridor of the hospital. I contributed some of the pictures . The whole project was created and managed by Claire Underhill as the lead artist. When Frenchay eventually closes the exhibition will be transferred to the new hospital at Southmead.


                                                                The 1940s                                                                                                                The 2000s

2010 The following article appeared on the BBC's Bristol web site on 17/05/2010

Refurbishment of Bristol's Cossham Hospital to begin

Twice as many appointments will be offered by the upgraded hospital Work on a 19m refurbishment of Cossham Hospital, in Kingswood, Bristol, is set to begin on 1 June.
The upgrade is being funded by the South West Strategic Health Authority following a campaign by residents to save the hospital from closure.
A contract has now been signed between NHS South Gloucestershire and the builders ISG Pearce, which means work can start.
The hospital is expected to re-open in early 2012 once work is completed.
Midwife centre The improvements will include the first stand-alone, midwife-led birthing centre in the area.
The refurbished hospital will be able to accommodate double the previous number of outpatient and physiotherapy appointments, and it will have a new minor injuries service, X-ray, ultrasound, MRI and CT scanning departments.
It is estimated the number of patient visits to the hospital will grow from more than 70,000 in 2008/09 to nearly 140,000 in 2012/13.
Podiatry and the special care dental service will move from Kingswood Healthcare Centre to purpose-designed facilities at Cossham.
Penny Harris, chief executive of NHS South Gloucestershire, said: "After years of working in partnership with local people to plan the refurbishment of Cossham and the services we will deliver from Cossham Hospital, building is finally set to start on site within the next month."

14th September 2011: From the Bristol Evening Post

This is how the new Frenchay Hospital in Bristol could look when it opens its doors in 2014.

The illustration shows how a community hospital on the site could look after the existing acute hospital is downgraded and replaced.

A new building has been proposed for the 68 rehabilitation beds, outpatient beds, therapies and diagnostic tests that will be available on the site when surgery and emergency services transfer to the new Southmead Hospital.

North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, has identified where on the Frenchay site the new hospital could be built along with a nursing home and extra care housing, which will be part of the plan to make it a health and social care centre.

Space will also be left available for a GP surgery on the site.

They are now looking for an outside organisation to work with them on the project and are planning to advertise for potential bidders in the Official Journal of the European Union later this month.

The proposals, which were due to be discussed by South Gloucestershire councillors at a meeting today, would see a third party arranging for the building of the centre, with the NHS leasing facilities from them.

The Evening Post understands that the hospital trust is looking into the possibility of an organisation such as St Monica Trust being involved in the project because it already has expertise in providing varying levels of care on one site. Its Sandford Station site in North Somerset includes flats and cottages with extra support available, a nursing care home and a specialist dementia care facility.

NBT chief executive Ruth Brunt said that there would be the option for a nursing home to be provided alongside NHS beds as part of a flexible and integrated approach to patient care.

As previously reported in the Post, development experts were brought in by the hospital trust to look at the 70-acre site to help assess which of the existing hospital buildings should be kept.

A parcel of land at the north of the hospital site has been identified for the social care centre, where work could start while the main hospital is still open.

There are no clinical services based on the site, only Second World War Nissen huts used for storage, the linen exchange and some car parking.

The trust hopes to start the competitive process with bidders in December ready to finalise a contract by next November, with the aim of opening the new hospital by April 2014.

Mrs Brunt said that once the partner was appointed the trust would work on a master plan for the rest of the site, which will look at which buildings should be demolished and what land might be surplus and sold off. Money made from the sale would be reinvested in health services.

The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit and Burden Centre are due to stay on the Frenchay site and discussions are continuing with other organisations including WRVS, Headway and Bristol Area Stroke Foundation about whether they will remain on the site.

Community hospital services at Frenchay were originally due to be run by NHS South Gloucestershire but planned changes to the health service mean that NBT will now lead the project.

Mrs Brunt said: "We are keen to consider all opportunities which will allow a range of services to be developed on the Frenchay site.

"The inclusion of extra care housing could further enhance this model allowing local people access to differing levels of support to suit their needs."

From Bristol Post On-line. 25 Oct 2012

DOUBTS have emerged over whether a community hospital will be built at Frenchay.

The NHS announced yesterday that plans for a health and social care centre on the Frenchay Hospital site will be delayed while a review is carried out into how services for frail older people will be organised in the future.

But a suggestion that any community facilities on the site will not be in place until 2015 has caused some to fear that the long-promised hospital will never be built on the site.

The NHS has said it is committed to delivering high-quality services but could not confirm that those services would be provided from a community hospital at Frenchay.

When it was announced that the superhospital for the north of Bristol would be built at Southmead, residents were told that there would be a community hospital at Frenchay. Now campaigners and residents fear that with other alternative facilities now in place in the north of the city, the NHS may not be able to justify spending money on services at a Frenchay community hospital.

Cossham Hospital is due to open with community services within months after a 19 million refurbishment and there is now also a minor injuries unit at Yate.

Concerned residents have told The Post they fear that these may be used as an alternative to the Frenchay plans. One, who asked not to be named, said they could not understand how community services that would be accommodated elsewhere following the closure of the existing Frenchay Hospital in 2014 would then be relocated back to the site a year later.

The plan for a health and social care centre at Frenchay, revealed last year, was for a partnership with a private organisation which would build and run the site. Under the plans a contract was due to be finalised next month.

Now NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) has revealed that a review across the patch will look at services for older people, rehabilitation and urgent care. The organisation said the review would be completed in the spring ready for proposals to be in place in 2015.

Chairman of the new South Gloucestershire clinical commissioning group Stephen Illingworth, who is leading the project, said: "Because of the timing of the review we will have to delay the plans for the Frenchay Health and Social Care Centre. We appreciate that the delay is difficult for everybody, particularly for stakeholders who have worked so hard with us on the Frenchay Health and Social Care Centre Project, but we do need to ensure that the models of care will deliver what we and patients want – high quality services that improve health and wellbeing that we can sustain for the long term."

NHS BNSSG programme director for strategic development Ben Bennett said he could not make promises about how services would look ahead of the review.

"We have to be absolutely clear we have got a plan that stacks up, considering all the things that have shifted," he said.

"I don't think anyone wants to see us going ahead without us figuring out all the details."

Save Frenchay Hospital Group campaigner Barbara Harris said assurances had been given that there would be a community hospital at Frenchay in 2004 – before Cossham Hospital was saved from closure and an independent sector treatment centre built at Emersons Green.

She said: "We were given firm assurances that the community hospital would be an integral part of the main hospital provision – now to be told all these years down the line that it may not happen is disgraceful. If we don't get this hospital we will have nothing. There is no alternative to a community hospital."

From BBC Bristol News  13 April 2013

NHS confirms Frenchay to get community beds

The NHS has committed to provide new community beds on the Frenchay site when the existing hospital closes.

South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning group will build a 68-bed centre alongside a nursing home owned by the private sector.

Services provided at Frenchay are due to end when a new hospital opens in 2014 at Southmead, bringing together specialist teams from both sites.

Work on the new community services is not expected to begin until after 2014.

In a statement the South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said it had "reaffirmed its commitment to the development of community beds on the Frenchay site as part of a health and social care centre".

The news has been welcomed by the Save Frenchay Hospital Group.

"The future of Frenchay hospital is an incredibly important and emotive local issue and I'm encouraged by the local health bosses' response to our campaign," said John Godwin, former chairman of the group.

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Updated 16 April 2013