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Happy 147th Birthday Sheffield Children’s!

Old picture of Sheffield Children's Hospital - Western Bank site
15 November 2023

147 years ago today, Sheffield Children’s opened its doors for the very first time. So let’s take a look back at where we began.

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 10,214 inpatients we saw in 2022/23. 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 1920s with electric radiators replacing open fires and the operating theatre opening its doors.

Since 1948 our services have been provided under the NHS and Sheffield Children’s has continued to grow. In the 1970s we extended what became our Emergency Department and last year we treated 65,348 patients.

Today we’re in a unique position as we care for patients from across the UK, providing not only physical but also mental healthcare to children and young people, both in our specialist Becton Centre and out in the community. In 2022/23 we supported mental health inpatients through 5,155 days and nights of care, and had over 26,000 contacts with patients to provide mental healthcare in our communities.

Reflections

Ruth Brown smiling at the cameraRuth Brown, Chief Executive of Sheffield Children’s, said: “For 147 years we’ve provided specialist and leading care for children and young people – although we’ve definitely grown from our humble beginnings on Brook Hill in Sheffield

“We now care for children and young people locally, nationally and internationally. Our specialised workforce provides physical and mental health care at different sites across the region, in the community, and even in patients’ own homes. We’re also taking steps to place Sheffield Children’s as a leader in paediatric healthcare with our key role in the creation of the National Centre for Child Health Technology.

“Our international research is developing new ways to care for families, and we’re investing in new technology and digital systems which will improve how we’re able to provide care, and our data security – which is becoming increasingly important.

“Sheffield Children’s is also investing in people. Our health and wellbeing programme and equality networks are pushing us towards our aim of being a brilliant place to work. We’re also introducing initiatives to help fight health inequalities – such as our partnership with Food Works – and make sure that as many people as possible can access our care.

“Happy Birthday to Sheffield Children’s! I’m incredibly proud to work here alongside amazing colleagues who continue to make a difference to the lives of children and young people.”

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.

John Armstrong smiling at the cameraJohn 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 as the hospital heads into its 148th year! It is an institution held with such pride and affection in communities across our region and beyond.

“Thanks to the generosity of the public, charities and local businesses supporting The Children’s Hospital Charity, in April we announced we had reached our £6million target for the build of a new helipad on the roof of the Stephenson Building, to support the Emergency Department’s status as one of only five dedicated paediatric Major Trauma Centres in England. The new helipad will reduce delays for patients who need urgent critical care from across South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, and offer privacy and dignity. We are so proud to be able to bring this to Sheffield Children’s, and look forward to the helipad being fully operational in the Spring.

Since our last birthday

Artists drawing of the NCCHT centre

Sheffield Children’s may be 147, but we’re still providing new ways to improve our range of services, our research, and the care that we provide.

Sheffield Children’s is leading the way in a global health first. In February 2023, the final £6m funding was confirmed for the National Centre for Child Health Technology from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority. Once opened, the advanced technologies developed there will benefit children all across the globe.

Meanwhile, we’ve continued to care for children and young people in a variety of settings. In the last year nearly 189,000 appointments were attended – either face-to-face or virtually – in our Western Bank Outpatients department alone.

It’s not just hospital care though. In 2022/23 we accommodated 895 overnight stays at Ryegate House, conducted 341 research studies thanks to the support of 1,544 patients, colleagues and volunteers, and assisted in carrying out 1,908 transfers through our Embrace patient transport service. Not to mention thousands more physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions.

As children across the country headed back to school in September, Sheffield Children’s School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS) were getting ready to do the same. In the summer of 2023 we were awarded the contract to provide the seasonal flu vaccine in addition to the current vaccinations already delivered by the SAIS, which includes routine Meningitis, Typhoid/Diphtheria/Polio, HPV.

As the effects of climate change continued to be felt across the world, we demonstrated our commitment to our Green Plan. In fact we won the Public Engagement Award at the 2022 Sustainability Partnership Awards for our project on inhaler recycling.

What next?

A child gives a thumbs up while holding onto an indoor climbing wall.

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.

Landing next year is our new helipad. This will make sure children and young people can access emergency care with dignity, as safely and as soon as possible. Sheffield Children’s Hospital is the designated Major Trauma Centre for children in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw and beyond, meaning it helps patients requiring urgent care from around the region.

However, Sheffield Children’s continues to face 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.

Part of our response to those challenges will be the launch of our Quality Promise next year. It describes Sheffield Children’s commitment to children, young people and families – what children, young people and families should expect from us, whenever and however they receive care.

Whilst the challenges are great, during the development of the Quality Promise 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.

Sheffield Children’s continues to work 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 to raise £2m for the National Centre for Child Health Technology at tchc.org.uk.

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