Target Health Blog

Great Ormond Street Hospital (London) for Children

December 11, 2017

History of Medicine

The above photo shows part of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, United Kingdom, which was the first pediatric hospital in the English-speaking world.

Photo credit: Nigel Cox, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Great Ormond Street Hospital (informally GOSH or Great Ormond Street, formerly the Hospital for Sick Children) is a children's hospital located in the Bloomsbury area of the London Borough of Camden, and a part of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust. The hospital, founded in 1852, is the largest center for child heart surgery in the UK and one of the largest centers for heart transplantation in the world. In 1962, almost one hundred years after its founding, they developed the first heart and lung bypass machine for children. With children's book author Roald Dahl, they developed an improved shunt valve for children with water on the brain (hydrocephalus), and non-invasive (percutaneous) heart valve replacements. They did the first UK clinical trials of the rubella vaccine, and the first bone marrow transplant and gene therapy for severe combined immunodeficiency. This children's hospital is closely associated with University College London (UCL) and in partnership with the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, which is adjacent to it, is the largest center for research and postgraduate teaching in children's health in Europe.

After a long campaign by Dr. Charles West, the Hospital for Sick Children was founded on 14 February 1852 and was the first hospital providing in-patient beds specifically for children in England. Despite opening with just 10 beds, it grew into one of the world's leading children's hospitals through the patronage of Queen Victoria, counting Charles Dickens, a personal friend of Dr. West, the Chief Physician, as one of its first fundraisers.

Audrey Callaghan, wife of James Callaghan (prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979), served the hospital as Chairman of the Board of Governors from 1968 to 1972 and then as Chairman of the Special Trustees from 1983 until her final retirement in 1990. Diana, Princess of Wales, served as president of the Hospital from 1989 until her death. A plaque at the entrance of the hospital commemorates her services, as well as a bust in the lobby of the hospital chapel. The Charles West School of Nursing transferred from Great Ormond Street to London South Bank University in 1995. In 2002 Great Ormond Street Hospital commenced a redevelopment program which is budgeted at ?343 million and the next phase of which was scheduled to be complete by the end of 2016. The redevelopment was needed to expand capacity, deliver treatment in a more comfortable and modern way, and to reduce unnecessary inpatient admissions. In July 2012, Great Ormond Street Hospital was featured in the opening ceremony of the London Summer Olympics and in 2017 Great Ormond Street Hospital was subject to international attention regarding the Charlie Gard treatment controversy. The hospital's archives are available for research under the terms of the Public Records Act 1958 and a catalogue is available on request. Admission records from 1852 to 1914 have been made available online on the Historic Hospital Admission Records Project.

St Christopher's Chapel, in Great Ormond Street Hospital, is a chapel decorated in the Byzantine style and a Grade II listed building located in the Variety Club Building of the hospital. Designed by Edward Middleton Barry (son of the architect Sir Charles Barry who designed the Houses of Parliament) and built in 1875, it is dedicated to the memory of Caroline Barry, wife of William Henry Barry (eldest son of Sir Charles Barry) who provided the money required to build the Chapel and a stipend for the chaplain. It was built in "elaborate Franco-Italianate style." As the chapel exists to provide pastoral care to ill children and their families, many of its details refer to childhood. The stained glass depicts the Nativity, the childhood of Christ and biblical scenes related to children. The dome depicts a pelican pecking at her breast in order to feed her young with drops of her own blood, a traditional symbol of Christ's sacrifice for humanity. When the old hospital was being demolished in the late 1980s, the chapel was moved to its present location via a 'concrete raft' to prevent any damage. The stained glass and furniture were temporarily removed for restoration and repair. It was reopened along with the new Variety Club Building on 14 February 1994 by Diana, Princess of Wales, then president of the hospital.

In April 1929 the hospital was the recipient of playwright J. M. Barrie's copyright to the Peter Pan works, with the provision that the income from this source not be disclosed. This gave the institution control of the rights to these works, and entitled it to royalties from any performance or publication of the play and derivative works. Four theatrical feature films were produced, innumerable performances of the play have been presented, and numerous editions of the novel were published under license from the hospital. Its trustees commissioned a sequel novel, Peter Pan in Scarlet, which was published in 2006 and received mixed reviews, with a film adaptation planned. When the copyright first expired at the end of 1987 in the UK, 50 years after Barrie's death, the UK government's Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 granted the hospital a perpetual right to collect royalties for public performances, commercial publication, or other communications to the public, of the work, but this does not constitute a true copyright. When copyright term itself was subsequently extended to the author's life plus 70 years by a European Union directive in 1996 standardizing terms throughout the EU, GOSH revived its copyright of Peter Pan which then expired in 2007. The terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act now prevail in the UK.

GOSH has been in legal disputes in the United States, where the copyright term is based on date of publication, putting the 1911 novel in the public domain, although the Hospital asserts that the 1928 version of the play is still under copyright in the US. Legal opinion as to whether or not permission is required for new works based on the story and characters is divided and open to interpretation and so far, there has been no legal precedent to prove one view or the other.

The hospital has relied on charitable support since it first opened. One of the main sources for this support is Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. While the NHS meets the day-to-day running costs of the hospital, the fundraising income allows Great Ormond Street Hospital to remain at the forefront of child healthcare. The charity aims to raise over 50 million pounds every year to complete the next two phases of redevelopment, as well as provide substantially more fundraising directly for research. The charity also purchases up-to-date equipment, and provides accommodation for families and staff. The charity's teardrop logo was designed for the Wishing Well Appeal in 1987 by the firm Collett Dickenson Pearce. Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity was one of the charities that benefited from the national Jeans for Genes campaign, which encourages people across the UK to wear their jeans and make a donation to help children affected by genetic disorders. All Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity's proceeds from the campaign went to its research partner, the UCL Institute of Child Health.

On 6 August 2009, Arsenal F.C. confirmed that Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity was to be their 'charity of the season' for the 2009-10 season. They raised over 800,000 pounds for a new lung function unit at the hospital, having raised 532,816 pounds for Teenage Cancer Trust in the previous season. Two charity singles have been released in aid of the hospital. In 1987, "The Wishing Well", recorded by an ensemble line-up including Boy George, Peter Cox and Dollar among others, and became a top 30 hit. In 2009, The X Factor finalists covered Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" in aid of the charity, reaching No.1 in the UK Charts. Also, the winner's singles of James Arthur and Sam Bailey have been released in aid of the charity. On 30 March 2010, Channel 4 staged the first Channel 4's Comedy Gala at the O2 Arena in London, in aid of the charity. The event has been repeated every year since, raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity each time. In 2011, Daniel Boys recorded a charity single called 'The World is Something You Can Imagine'. It was also released as with proceeds going to the Disney Appeal at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Source: Wikipedia

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