For most of the first twenty years of the Newtown hospital, any surgery performed there was done by members of the honorary surgical staff and none by the resident surgeon.

The room set aside for operations was in the main entrance block.  In the floor plan of this area, architect Christian Toxward labeled it 'Consulting Room'.

It will be evident to the reader that this was a most unsuitable situation and at least as early as 1893 the honorary surgeons expressed concerns for patient safety.

They submitted the following concerns in a letter to the Hospital Trustees, which were also published in the Evening Post on 2 March 1897:

  "1) The present operating theatre is altogether too small for requirements, and the light for surgical work exceedingly faulty.
   2)  The present theatre is used for minor outside surgical cases, and is also used for the application of electricity in medical cases, which involves danger to aseptic surgery.
  3)  The present theatre, by reason of its construction, cannot be kept aseptic, ie. surgically clean.
  4)  The room adjoining, none other being available, is used by the Resident Medical Superintendent both as an office and for the reception of all kinds of patients.  The risk of septic infection from this source is very considerable.
  5)  Many operations are now performed which at the time of the inception of the Hospital were not thought to be within the range of practical surgery.  These operations demand special precautions.
  6)  Operations have to be postponed in consequence of previous cases, endangering the lives of patients from septic poisoning.  This state of affairs is worrying and disheartening to the patients whose operations have to be deferred, and is a source of much inconvenience to the staff.
  7)  Patients, after severe operations, have to be carried too great a distance before being put to bed.  These removals are attended by considerable risk.

The Trustees took note of the concerns and a fund-raising exercise began to enable the construction of a purpose-built operating theatre block.  It would be four more years before these aims were realised.


Last updated 25 October 2016.