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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

The recent history of Guy's and St Thomas', 1970s to 2000s

The two London hospitals of Guy’s and St Thomas’, and their associated institutions, have been major centres within the local and national landscape of medicine and health services for several hundred years. Funded by Guys’ and St Thomas’ Charity, this project was set up to tell the story of the hospitals and their various institutions since the 1970s.

Building on CHSTM’s established strengths in contemporary history, the research will bring together the perspectives of decision-makers, clinicians, workers and patients to map key events such as the merger of the medical schools, the creation of one Trust, the building of the Evelina Hospital for Children and the creation of King’s Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre.

Drawing on interviews and archive material, we will explore themes such as the interdependence of medical research, teaching and service; organisational reconfigurations including hospital closures and mergers; changes in nursing; international clinical and management links; multi-ethnic workforces, patients and health communities; professional and social networks; and media and patient activism.

A key aim is to contribute to contemporary health policymaking and medical practice by using the recent history of Guy’s and St Thomas’ to develop creative responses to perennial and present problems. The main output will be a book which aims to be a rigorous and enjoyable history with wide appeal, as well as activities which will have resonance for a broad range of publics including policymakers, historians and social scientists, as well as the institutions’ staff, patients and alumni.

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Photographs from the June 2011 seminar. Top to bottom, left to right: Professor Maurice Lessof and Professor Adrian Eddleston; Liz Jenkins; Robert Maxwell, John Wyn Owen and Sir Ron Kerr; Sir Cyril Chantler; Professor Ian Cameron and Sir Barry Jackson. Photographs taken by Julian Simpson.

The first phase of the research consisted of a witness seminar held at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust on 16 June 2011. Around 30 participants attended the event, which covered key areas such as: the 1974 NHS reorganisation, shift to teaching health districts and abolition of Boards of Governors; the formation of the United Medical and Dental Schools (UMDS), 1982-5; the establishment of St Thomas’ NHS Trust, 1992/3 and Guy’s and Lewisham NHS Trust, 1992/3; the creation of a single, merged Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust, 1994; Florence Nightingale School of Nursing, 1996; Guy’s, Thomas’ and King’s Medical School, 1998; the move to Foundation Trust, 2004; Evelina Children’s Hospital, 2005; and King’s Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, 2008.

Among the witnesses were Mr John Wyn Owen, Administrator of St Thomas’ Health District (Teaching) in the 1970s; Sir Cyril Chantler, medical manager and ex-Chair of the King’s Fund; Mrs Liz Jenkins, former Director of Nursing and Unit General Manager at St Thomas’; Professor Ian Cameron, former principal of the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals. Other participants included Robert Maxwell, ex-Chief Executive of the King’s Fund; Sir Barry Jackson, past President of the Royal College of Surgeons; and Sir Ron Kerr, Chief Executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust.

The discussion explored some of the drivers behind these areas and the mergers of the medical, dental and nursing schools and hospitals in the wider context of the reconfiguration of London medical education and health services.

Can you help?

A key aspect of the research includes collecting memories and recollections from past and present staff, students, patients and volunteers across all areas and occupations.

  • How did you come to work at Guy’s/St Thomas’? What do you remember about your first day?
  • What events stand out in your mind and why?
  • Have you kept in touch with your work colleagues?
  • How has Guy’s and St Thomas’ changed over the years? 
  • If you haven’t worked there yourself, do you remember family or friends talking about their experiences?
  • Did this change the way you thought about the NHS?
  • Have you had experience of being a patient? What was this like?

If you’re interested in helping then please write out your story (as short or as long as you like) and send it by post or email to us. With your permission, your contribution will be used to further our understandings of Guy’s and St Thomas’ over the recent decades. All data will be securely stored and only accessed by the researchers and if you wish, your contribution can remain anonymous.

Stephanie Snow/Julian Simpson

Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine
2nd floor Simon Building
Brunswick Street
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL. or tel 01691 690333 or tel 0774 094 8476

For further information about this project, please contact Dr Stephanie Snow.

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