As we enter the second national lockdown amidst a second wave of COVID-19, West Middlesex University Hospital continues to celebrate its centenary with a short video, outlining the hospital’s rich history, dynamic present and promising future. With in-person events on hold because of the Coronavirus pandemic, hospital charity CW+ is celebrating 100 years of West Middlesex virtually over the coming year, until September 2021 when a real-life event has been tentatively planned to take place at the adjacent Syon Park.
A comprehensive heritage exhibition will also be displayed on the hospital site in Isleworth, featuring films, photos, written materials, and other artefacts, many of which were archived until now. New commemorative installation spaces and commissions will be set up across the hospital estate, staff competitions will be organised and there will be a special grant-funding call.
The film takes a closer look at how West Middlesex gained its reputation as a community hospital with world-class medical capabilities. “West Middlesex University Hospital is a hospital that sits at the heart of its community and indeed is treasured by its community, served by many staff who come from that community,” said Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust CEO Lesley Watts. “We look forward to sharing our history, heritage and celebrations with our staff and patients – and the community we serve.”
Many staff members train at West Middlesex and then stay on for the duration of their careers. Medical Director Dr Iain Beveridge began his career as a medical student some 20 years ago, as he describes in the film: “West Middlesex has really been a second home for me for at least half of my life. It’s where I came as a medical student; it’s where I started as a trainee. The atmosphere is what I liked about it then, I think the same about the hospital now.”
We have chosen to focus on several stories that relay the hospital’s history or exemplify its ongoing commitment to transforming care:
- During WWII, the hospital established a unique and long-lasting relationship with Norway, when West Middlesex’s Sister Mace welcomed scores of Norwegian sailors who took refuge in the hospital. Introducing them to hospital nurses, she took them Kew Gardens and invited them to tea in the hospital’s grounds. Many romantic unions between seamen and nurses emerged as a result, and the hospital stills holds a special relationship with Norway, as the Ambassador to the UK recounts in the film. We would also like to hear from any children or grandchildren of these unions.
- This year also marks 20 years since nurses were first recruited from the Philippines to train and work at West Middlesex. Many of them have risen through the ranks, still caring for patients at West Middlesex two decades later, while establishing a thriving local Filipino community.
- Innovation is central to West Middlesex, the Trust and CW+ charity. Recent developments include cardiology consultant’s Sadia Khan’s work on a number of digital innovations including Pulse Music, an intelligent music listening system designed to use live data to support clinical goals; and stroke ward nurses Ahlam Wynne and Angela Chick’s oral care innovation project, which aims to reduce the incidence of pneumonia for people with swallowing difficulties.
As the year draws to a close, we want to recognise how staff and members of the local community came together during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hospital was transformed into a field hospital in a matter of weeks. Staff provided selfless care to patients, often going beyond their comfort zone and fields of expertise, while the community donated money and a range of gifts-in-kind, including meals, snacks, cosmetics and more. “The commitment that our staff have shown during this period leaves me speechless,” says CEO Lesley Watts. “I couldn’t be more proud.” Volunteers continue to offer key support: young volunteer Sumayyah Khan, who insisted on helping five days a week during the first wave of COVID-19, says she wants to become a doctor at West Middlesex.
The new film also looks to the future, showing how projects for West Middlesex’s development are taking shape, with plans to build a new state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment centre and many other world-class medical and community facilities. “There are plans to develop the whole hospital into a community healthcare hub and that will mean enhanced healthcare facilities, community facilities, accommodation and many other things that will mean that this is an anchor site for the whole of the Hounslow community,” sums up Dr Beveridge.
Since the hospital’s 100th anniversary on 17 September, many others have showered the hospital with birthday wishes, including local dignitaries, senior NHS executives, including Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Chair Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett; London Regional Director of NHS England Sir David Sloman; singer/songwriter Sophie Ellis-Bextor who was born at the hospital; Harlequin Rugby Club; the Mayor of Richmond; former Mayor of Hounslow Cllr Samia Chaudhary, and others.