Stoke Mandeville Hospital

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Stoke Mandeville Hospital is a large hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England. It is one of the largest hospitals in Europe and is able to boast the largest spinal injuries department in the world.

The hospital started out in life in the 1830s. The village of Stoke Mandeville was very badly hit by the cholera epidemic that swept across England in the early part of the decade, and so a cholera hosital was established on the parish border between Stoke Mandeville and Aylesbury. It was established out of monies provided by both parishes, though was built separate from both places as cholera was very contageous and the inhabitants didn't want to get infected.

By the start of the Twentieth century the hospital had developed into an Infectious Diseases Hospital, treating all infections, not just cholera. However the town of Aylesbury was growing, and the distance between the town and the hospital was getting smaller, and before long people with infectious diseases could no longer be treated here because the risk of infecting the local community was too great.

During the Second World War the hospital was used to treat military casualties, and was expanded during this time to cater for the extra patients, so as to support the nearby Royal Bucks Hospital, in the centre of Aylesbury. It was during this time that spinal injuries were first treated at the hospital.

In 1948 the NHS was founded and all operations were moved from the Royal Bucks to Stoke Mandeville, making it the main hospital in Aylesbury. Aylesbury had, by this time, grown to such an extent that the hospital became a part of the town.

Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the hospital was added to extensively and the new Accident and Emergency Unit was opened. Also during this period the Ludwig Guttman Paraplegic Stadium opened next door to the hospital, making Stoke Mandeville for the first time a world centre for paraplegics and spinal injuries.

In the 1970s and 1980s the hospital received support from its biggest campaigner Jimmy Savile who gave it a high profile on his television appearances, and fundraised an immense amount of money for the hospital. He was knighted for the amount of time he donated. The hospital was also visited during this time by many distinguished guests, particularly Diana, Princess of Wales, who opened the new International Spinal Injuries Centre when it was refurbished.

Today the hospital is still growing, with a new maternity unit opened recently, and plans to refurbish the Accident and Emergency Unit and further extend the hospital.

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