History of Barnes Hospital 1889 - 2017
Collated by Kathy Sheldon, Chair, Friends of Barnes Hospital
Opened in 1889 by Rural Sanitary Authority for Barnes as a Hospital for Infectious Diseases (Isolation Hospital)
During 1940 – 1945 continued as an Infectious Diseases Hospital but was frequently used in other ways eg maternity, Mortuary.
In 1948 became part of the NHS structure - providing care for older people with physical health needs – mainly inpatient care and eventually a Day Hospital
During 1991 / 1993 a new unit was built and the main provision of care changed to mental health services (managed from Queen Marys Roehampton - who at this stage owned the site) with one ward for physical health continuing care patients. Eventually the old wards for physical ailments closed and the Day Hospital for physical health moved to the Queen Marys site in 1999.
The hospital continued to be used for mental health services- mainly older people’s inpatients, Day Hospital and Outpatients, In addition there was a 12 bed rehabilitation ward for adults unable to cope alone in the community. Various clinics / therapies moved onto the site - some were closed when the PCT contracted with other bodies to provide Psychological Therapies elsewhere.
In 2008 the Older Peoples Mental Health Day Hospital closed and was replaced by an Outreach Team (treating older people at home). The day hospital building was then used as a Personality Disorder Unit.
Management / ownership of the site has changed frequently- especially in the last two decades. In 1997 when Queen Marys closed as a District Hospital ownership and management passed from Richmond Twickenham and Roehampton Health Authority to Kingston & District Community Trust (KDCT), based at Tolworth.
In 2001 KDCT was disbanded. Ownership and management passed to South West London & St Georges Mental Health Trust, based at Tooting and providing services in five boroughs. The one remaining continuing care ward for physical health patients closed in 2010.
In November 2010 Wandsworth PCT decided to discontinue using beds at Barnes Hospital for their patients. This made it difficult to continue with 2 older peoples wards so Petersham was closed and the only wards left on site was Sheen Lodge looking after older peoples with mental health disorders, and Riverside which looked after 12 adult males with ongoing more severe problems.
In 2011 Sheen Lodge was closed and all older people who needed inpatient care were transferred to Tolworth hospital
In 2013 Riverside Lodge (caring for adult patients) was closed
In 2015 The Older peoples Community mental health Team from the Twickenham side of the Borough moved over to the Barnes site to join with the Richmond Team. They formed the Older Peoples mental health team for the whole of the Borough. (But patients are still seen in their local communities at both sides of the Borough).
In 2016 the OPMT and ‘Friends’ moved out of the buildings they had been in for many years into the Garden House. (previously 2 x 22 bed wards – Fleming and Beatrice). This area had been converted into office meeting and activity space. This is a temporary move and accommodation will be changed / revamped when the future of the hospital is confirmed.
SW London & St Georges Mental Health Trust continued to provide Older Peoples Mental Health Services on and from this site through the Richmond Older Peoples Community Mental Health Team. They usually have more than 750 patients on their books. In each side of the Borough patients are cared for in their own homes, with patients from the Richmond side of the Borough visiting the hospital for out-patient appointments, the Memory Clinic, Psychological Therapies, and the Forget-me-not Group for early stage dementia clients run by the Alzheimer's Society.
Dr Robert Lawrence, as well as being the Consultant Psychiatrist of Old Age and Neuropsychiatry for Richmond, heads up the Clinical Research Unit in Psychiatry of Old Age & Neuropsychiatry for the Mental Health Trust from this site. His team includes associates from other major London Hospitals. We support this very valuable work and recently purchased an ECG machine to assist their research and have over two years given 10.000 towards one of their projects (My Life Film)
If you would like more details on the History of Barnes Hospital, perhaps you might like to purchase 'Founded on Fever, Fostered by Friends'
We’ve Been Here Before
The community is at serious risk from deadly epidemics. There are no effective treatments; the main strategy is to isolate suspected cases to try to contain the spread. This was the Richmond are in the late 1880s when the authorities proposed opening a fever hospital in Mortlake, to the horror of the local residents. The diseases in question were diphtheria and scarlet fever.
Now, in 2020, as the old Barnes Hospital site faces a new future, the Friends of Barnes Hospital have published a fascinating history of the institution. Based on extensive research in the archives and with conversations with former patients and staff, the story traces the hospital's controversial beginnings through the good times and the bad, until the present day
To obtain a copy, at £10 per copy including postage, either download a request form here, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07928 650077
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