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Happy 146th Birthday to Sheffield Children’s!

Old picture of Sheffield Children's Hospital - Western Bank site
15 November 2022

Where we began

Sheffield Children’s is 146 years old today! So let’s take a look back through our history.

Way back on 15 November 1876, Sheffield Children’s Hospital opened for the first time on Brook Hill, not far from where our Western Bank site is now, with a rent of £63 a year. It was described as an ‘infirmary for children’ and founded by Architect Mr J.D. Webster, Doctor Mr William J. Cleaver and Solicitor Mr Henry Vickers. Together they formed a committee and decided it would be “expedient to fund an institution for the relief of poor sick children.”

In its first year, the Hospital saw 29 inpatient admissions – some way short of the 10,731 inpatients we saw in 2021/22. But that’s not the only thing to change over the years. By 1907 we had installed our first X-Ray machine – and some electric lighting – before things really warmed up in the 1920’s with electric radiators replacing open fires and the operating theatre opened its doors.

Since 1948 our services have been provided under the NHS and our Trust continued to grow. In the 1970s we extended what became the Emergency Department and last year 60,720 patients were treated there.


Ruth Brown, Chief Executive of Sheffield Children’s, said: “We’re proud of being a part of Sheffield’s story for so many years. 146 years is a very long time and it’s amazing to see how Sheffield Children’s has grown from our humble beginnings on Brook Hill.

“We now care for children and young people locally, nationally and internationally. Our specialised workforce provide physical and mental health care at different sites across the city, in the community, and even in patients’ own homes. Our new Clinical Strategy aims to build on this and make sure that we are prepared to provide a healthier future for children and young people.

“We’re also participating in international research to develop new ways to care for families, and investing in new technology and digital support to allow our colleagues to bring their best selves to their roles.

“I’m incredibly proud to work at Sheffield Children’s and to be part of a brilliant team which continues to make a difference to the lives of so many people from hospital to community care. Happy birthday!”

The Children’s Hospital Charity was formed exactly a century after the hospital in 1976, to help Sheffield Children’s be the best it can be. The money raised through donations funds new facilities, life-saving equipment, vital research and an engaging environment for all who visit.

Sheffield Children’s is only one of five dedicated paediatric Major Trauma Centres in England and fundraising is currently ongoing for a new helipad on the roof of the Emergency Department. The Charity have now raised two thirds of the project’s £6m cost and it is hoped that, with the support of the public, construction can begin next year.

John Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer at The Children’s Hospital Charity added: “It is a great privilege at the Charity to be able to support the patients, families and staff at Sheffield Children’s, which as an institution is held with such pride and affection in communities across our region and beyond.

“As we wish the hospital a very happy 146th birthday, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on some of our achievements over the last year. The Children’s Hospital Charity was formed a century after the hospital to help Sheffield Children’s, and thanks to the support of the public, 2021/22 was the most successful fundraising year in our history.

“This success ensured we completed the appeal for a new Cancer and Leukaemia ward, which opened to patients in December. We also hope that by the time of Sheffield Children’s next birthday, construction will be underway on a life-saving new helipad above the Emergency Department, which will be yet another cause for celebration!”

Since our last birthday

PCCU patient and staff

We’re only a few years away from our 150th birthday and to make sure we’re in the best shape possible to celebrate it, we launched our new Clinical Strategy in October 2022.

This strategy has helped us recognise the challenges which we face at the moment, but also highlight the good things at Sheffield Children’s which we can build on. There are five themes to our Clinical Strategy; Integrated Care, Care Where Needed, Centre of Excellence, Health Inequalities and Inclusion and Healthy Lives.

Meanwhile, we’ve continued to care for children and young people in a variety of settings. In the last year alone more than 210,439 appointments were attended – either face-to-face or virtually – in our Outpatients department.

It’s not just hospital care though. In 2021/22 we saw 26,255 children and young people for community mental health appointments, accommodated 762 overnight stays at Ryegate House, conducted 370 research studies thanks to the support of 1,558 patients, colleagues and volunteers, and assisted in carrying out 1,975 transfers through Embrace. We also supported families through our respite centre Ryegate House and our four inpatient lodges at The Becton Centre.

We have been a leader in a number of areas of healthcare this year. In June, we took a significant step towards seeing the new National Centre for Child Health Technology become reality as the planning application was formally submitted to Sheffield City Council for a global centre of excellence to improve child health at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

Prof. Paul Dimitri, Professor of Child Health and Director of Research and Innovation at Sheffield Children’s, said: “The development of the National Centre for Child Health Technology has been cited by industry partners as a global first. It is set to develop the most advanced therapies in the world through digital and technology development for children and young people.”

As the effects of climate change continued to be felt across the world, we demonstrated our commitment to our Green Plan by implementing alternatives forms of anaesthesia, introducing inhaler recycling and switching our fleet of vans to Theo’s Electric Green Machines.

With the support of The Children’s Hospital Charity and its supporters, patients and families were able to move into our newly refurbished cancer and leukaemia ward (Ward 6)! The new ward is bigger and brighter, with improved spaces for parents to stay with their children and a dedicated playroom at the heart of the ward for everyone to enjoy.

What next?

Staff in corridor

Now just a few years short of our 150th birthday, Sheffield Children’s continues to be a specialised paediatric Trust and one of only three dedicated children’s trusts in the UK. We are driven by our “We CARE” values: Compassion, Accountability, Respect and Excellence, towards our aims of providing outstanding patient care, being a brilliant place to work, and being a leader in children’s health.

We are an integrated provider of physical and mental healthcare, uniquely placed to develop integrated care for our families from birth through community, acute and tertiary services that meet the personalised, holistic needs of individual families.

However, Sheffield Children’s is facing a set of challenges like no other: growing health inequalities, an increasing and changing profile of demand for healthcare and significant backlogs following the COVID-19 pandemic. 328,000 children and young people live in South Yorkshire, and we have some of the highest deprivation rates and worst health outcomes in the country.

Whilst the challenges are great, we have also heard of great passion, commitment and hope from our children and young people, families, colleagues, and partners about our ability to make a difference.

We’re increasingly working with our partners in Sheffield, in the NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care System and beyond, but there is potential for greater integration and delivery of patient care in partnership with other Providers, Commissioners and Voluntary Services. Our unique position as a provider of acute, community, mental health and emergency transport services gives an unrivalled expertise, and there’s much more we can do to help other organisations – and ultimately help children – by sharing that expertise, research and best practice. We will develop our research further, continue to embrace technology to support high quality care and also continue our work to create the first National Centre for Child Health Technology – bringing together healthcare, academia and the private sector to drive innovation and better care. With this work we know we can not only help children and young people in our region, but across the world.

We have a vision for a future where children always receive outstanding care – wherever we see them, whatever we see them for.

The Children’s Hospital Charity will be doing lots of amazing things in the next year to support the work we do to care for children and young people, you can find out more about their latest appeal for a helipad at the hospital on their website.

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