A campaign to celebrate nine centuries of St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 2023 has the potential to transform care for our east London communities.
Hospital chief executive Professor Charles Knight will tell attendees to tomorrow night’s campaign launch: “We want to use this amazing anniversary to propel us forward, to act as a spur towards raising money for world-leading medicine, health and wellbeing and education. It’s a huge chance to tell our story to the world.”
St Bartholomew’s is the oldest hospital in the country still providing care on its original site. It was founded with the Priory of St Bartholomew in 1123 by Rahere, a courtier of Henry I.
To mark this unique milestone, a number of ambitious fundraising projects are to be launched which bring together the ‘Barts’ family. Initial plans include a centre of excellence for breast cancer surgery at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and a new clinical research facility (CRF) based at The Royal London.
The new breast centre will consolidate surgery currently delivered at four hospital sites into a new multi-million pound theatre suite specifically designed for patients requiring specialist breast cancer and reconstructive surgery.
An expanded CRF, another Barts Charity project, aims to create the largest unit of its kind in the south east. It will provide overnight facilities for patients taking part in clinical research and open up opportunities to recruit patients from our diverse communities.
Group chief executive Alwen Williams believes the campaign has taken on even greater importance in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said: “We know there will be a widening of health inequalities and our communities will suffer. All our staff have a huge commitment to deliver a legacy coming out of Covid for our patients and this anniversary really gives us the chance to do that.”
Group chair Ian Peters said: “We have an opportunity to make a further step change in how we serve the communities in east London and, through our translational research, we can extend that to impact every country in the world. That’s what is so exciting about this campaign.”
In preparation for the special anniversary, which will include year-long celebrations across Barts Health, a dedicated charity, Barts Heritage, has been established to rescue and renovate the iconic buildings at the heart of St Bartholomew’s, including the Grade I listed North Wing with its spectacular Great Hall (pictured) and the staircase painted by William Hogarth.
Led by chief executive Will Palin, Barts Heritage aims to bring the buildings back to life and back into public use, whilst also providing wellbeing facilities for Barts Health staff. They have an initial fundraising target of £15 million.
St Bartholomew the Great, London’s oldest parish church, is similarly raising money to preserve its historic spaces and to create an education centre.
The Barts900 launch will include a message from HRH The Prince of Wales, patron of Barts Heritage, and be followed by a special View Day service from St Bartholomew the Great.
First held in 1551, View Day is traditionally an opportunity for the local community around St Bartholomew’s Hospital to tour its buildings and hear about its achievements. It also celebrates the close ties between the hospital and the City of London which date back more than 450 years.
The origins of presenting the hospital to the community can be traced back to the Easter ‘Spital services’, which were held in the Middle Ages.
The Barts900 campaign launch took place on Wednesday 12 May 2021. Watch the event in full below or at Barts900.org where you can find out more about our exciting projects. A View Day service from St Bartholomew the Great followed immediately afterwards.
Picture credit: Matthew Andrews on behalf of Barts Heritage