Wythenshawe (SMU) Hospital / Baguley Sanatorium

Baguley Sanatorium
Baguley Sanatorium - the forerunner of Wythenshawe Hospital - led the way in the fight against tuberculosis, opening its doors over a century ago. Tuberculosis is an infectious, communicable disease most frequently affecting the lungs. The disease is usually contracted by breathing in the bacterium or by swallowing contaminated food, and is spread by sneezing and coughing. Overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions were the main factors attributed to the spread of the disease. In the 1850s, TB accounted for about 12 per cent of deaths in Manchester. Widely seen as a deficiency disease, TB was a mass killer, claiming 2,000 lives per year in Manchester during the 1870s. As a result, Manchester Hospital for Consumption and Disease of the Throat was established in St John Street in 1875. By 1884 more space was needed and a large property in Bowdon was purchased for the treatment of inpatients.
But with TB continuing to spread, a £60,000 100-bed hospital was commissioned. 'Baguley Sanatorium, for the treatment of infectious diseases', was publicly opened by the Rt. Hon. Frederick Arthur, 16th Earl of Derby, on October 4, 1902. It later became a 150-bed sanatorium for the sole treatment of TB patients in 1912. The main treatment was bed rest (for months or even years in the worst cases), good food and fresh air and lots of it!

The TB wards had stable-style doors at either end, with upper and lower parts opening separately. The doors were open at all times except during the worst weather when the lower section only would be closed. Rubber sheets would be put over the bedclothes to protect them from rain and snow. During the First World War Blocks 6 and 7 were constructed, accommodating an additional 100 male and 53 female patients.

By 1922, beds had increased to 333. Statistics recorded by the Medical Superintendent Dr Hugh Trayer in that year show that, by December 31st, 66 patients had been in the institution for more than one year and nine for more than five years. More than 800 patients had been admitted during 1922 and the death rate stood at 17 per cent of the total patients treated (1,108).

Due to the long length of time many of the patients stayed in the sanatorium, occupational therapy was important. In 1927 a handicraft programme was implemented for male patients only. A similar initiative for female patients followed two years later.

Around 1960 the entrance to the Hospital combined chapel and recreation hall, for holding concerts, opened in 1933. Two years later the San Toy magazine was established. Running until 1954, the publication featured articles submitted by patients and played a major role in keeping up morale. By 1937 every bed was equipped with headphones for the relaying of radio programmes, including a weekly speech by the Medical Superintendent.

The 1930s and 1940s saw great changes in size and function. Some patients were transferred to Withington Hospital, the number of female beds was increased, the hospital's first operating theatre was opened, and a nurses home, the most modern in the country at the time, was constructed.

The idea of Wythenshawe Hospital was initially discussed in 1939 but, with war imminent, the priority was to adapt Baguley Sanatorium to cope with the expected rush of civilian war casualties.

An Emergency Medical Services (EMS) hospital - consisting of rows of wooden huts - was constructed and used to treat soldiers who had been injured or burned. As a result, Baguley became an early pioneer of plastic surgery. The Plastic Surgery Unit transferred to a purpose built unit at Withington Hospital in 1969.

By the birth of the National Health Service in 1948 the hospital required urgent modernisation. It was taken over by the South Manchester Hospital Management Committee. By 1950 the last of the military patients had departed and one ward was renovated as a children's Ear, Nose & Throat ward. While Baguley remained a chest hospital, the hutted EMS area became the early Wythenshawe Hospital.

In the early 1950s hospital discipline was strict. Visiting was allowed on weekend afternoons only, for one hour. Segregation of the sexes was stringently observed.

*Sample of Rules & Regulations for Patients - by order Medical Superintendent:

“Patients receiving visitors at any time will see that they do not sit upon the bed. Patients will at all times behave in a quiet and orderly manner. Shouting, running and whistling is forbidden. All patients medically fit, will be required to make their own beds on rising in the morning and may be required to assist in making those of more weakened patients before going to breakfast. Swearing or the use of improper language is strictly forbidden. Any familiarity between male and female patients, or between patients and any member of staff, is strictly forbidden. Offenders will be discharged from the hospital forthwith." (*Relevant in 1930s and 1940s)

In the early 1950s Chief Administrator Robert Lawton Hall ran a piggery, situated close to the wards. Patients complained about the smell but the pork was supplied to the municipal hospitals.

In 1952 the new chest clinic at Baguley Hospital was opened. The TB death toll by this time was less than one a day. The Hospital was gaining an impressive reputation. In 1955 the Ministry of Health included Wythenshawe in its list of the first new hospitals to be built under the National Health Service. Plans were to demolish the EMS hospital and build a 516-bed hospital on the site. However years of wrangling between Manchester Regional Hospital Board, Manchester Corporation and Central Government followed.

In 1956 the Wythenshawe Recorder reported: “Wythenshawe must be one of the most un-hospital like hospitals in Manchester. Not quite home from home, but nearer than might be expected.”

Eventually, it was decided to build a 350-bed hospital on land in the grounds north of Baguley Hospital. Under the revised plan, the EMS huts would also be retained.

The £720,000 Maternity Hospital finally opened in 1965. By the end of the 1960s Wythenshawe was a £7.2m general hospital specialising in (Baguley site) chest clinic, respiratory diseases, cardiology, cardio-thoracic surgery, (maternity hospital) ante-natal and post-natal clinics, (Wythenshawe site) general medicine, general surgery, orthopaedic, gynaecology, dermatology, ENT, cerebral palsy, paediatric, paediatric surgery and plastic surgery.

During the 1970s and 1980s Wythenshawe Hospital became one of the busiest and most successful hospitals in the North West. In 1987 surgeons carried out the first heart transplant operation at Wythenshawe. A new transplant centre was officially opened by Princess Margaret in 1993, the same year that the 200th transplant was carried out.

In 1994 the ENS wooden huts were knocked down, 40 years after being initially earmarked for demolition. It was the end of an era but the start of another multi-million pound expansion programme for the hospital.

Until 1994, South Manchester Health Authority (SMHA) was responsible for running Withington, Wythenshawe and Christie hospitals. As part of major reforms of the NHS, the hospitals became self-governing trusts. SMHA was split into two trusts, the Christie NHS Trust and South Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust (SMUHT).

SMUHT developed a rationalisation strategy based on Wythenshawe as the main 'state-of-the-art' in-patient hospital with Withington as the community hospital featuring outpatient facilities, some special units and a day case service.

By 1995 the Trust was treating more than 7,500 in-patients and day cases, 300,000 outpatients, with 90,000 attendances at the A&E departments; it had an annual income of £150m and employed some 5,500 people.

Achievements in the early years of the new Century include the building of The North West Lung Centre, two new state-of-the-art cardiac catheterisation laboratories, the transfer of the cystic fibrosis unit to a £1.25m purpose-built unit at Wythenshawe, the opening of the day case service, and the transfer of the maternity services from Withington to a new £2.8m unit at Wythenshawe. A £2m extension to the children's unit opened in 2000 while the £9m education and research centre opened one year later.

More recently the Hospital’s Acute Unit was financed and built under the Government's Private Finance Initiative. Marking the first phase of a major £113m development of Wythenshawe Hospital, the new unit consists of an state-of-the-art Accident and Emergency department, a burns unit, coronary care unit, intensive care unit, six operating theatres, five medical and five surgical wards, an x-ray department, fracture clinic and renal department.

The second phase of the development - which includes a 44-bed rehabilitation unit, day treatment unit and additional outpatient facilities - has also been recently completed.

*Extracts taken from the book 'The History of Baguley Sanatorium and Wythenshawe Hospital 1902-2002' by Robert Price Davies, General Surgeon, 1968-1993.