Great Ormond Street Hospital Opens
When politicians of a certain ilk hark back to Victorian greatness, they should be reminded that along with economic growth and great engineering projects there was a darker side to Britain: for the children of the poor mortality rates were high; malnutrition claimed many; others fell into child prostitution; and until 1852 specialist hospital provision for all children was non-existent.
On February 14 1852, however, thanks to the work of Dr Charles West backed by major philanthropists and friends including Charles Dickens , The Hospital for Sick Children opened its doors. Great Ormond Street Hospital as it is now known was housed at 49 Great Ormond Street, a building converted from a grand mansion. West had trained in Berlin and Paris, both capitals enjoying specialist healthcare for children long before Britain. Throughout the 1850s the hospital got by with just two physicians and one surgeon working pro bono, their earnings made elsewhere – a salutary fact in our contemporary era of highly lucrative contracts and merit awards in the medical world.
The hospital had and has three aims: the treatment of children; paediatric research; and training specialist children’s nurses. Funded by subscriptions at the outset, it gained a huge and continuing financial boost when J.M. Barrie assigned it the rights from Peter Pan in 1929.
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