The UK’s first community hospital is celebrating a golden year .

Wallingford Community Hospital is helping to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Community Hospital Association.

It opened when Queen Victoria was still on the throne and provided care through two world wars.

Dr Helen Tucker, president of the Community Hospitals Association, said: “Wallingford Hospital was the first hospital that signalled the change from ‘cottage hospital’ to ‘community hospital’.

“Doctors Rue and Bennet in Oxfordshire in the 1970s developed the concept of this new model of integrated care, increasing the scope and provision of services by small local hospitals. Wallingford Hospital was inspirational, and paved the way for community hospitals today.”

Ward manager Andy Armsby added: “St Leonard’s ward is a fantastic place to work. I’m proud to have an amazing team of nurses, health care assistants and therapy staff who work here providing excellent care for local people to come here receive on going rehabilitation following illness or assessment prior to going home or to an ongoing placement.

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“Despite the challenges that Covid-19 has thrown up everyone is still working really hard to give patients the best possible care and services.”

The Wallingford Community Hospital League of Friends charity was founded in 1953 to support and promote the work of the hospital and has raised funds to provide much needed equipment and comforts for the benefit of patients and staff. Their fundraising paid for new hifi equipment for the St Leonards therapy ward day room and new exercise equipment in the Physiotherapy department to help people with Parkinson's.

Oxford Mail:

Kate Eveleigh, chair of the League of Friends, said: “The hospital is an important part of a community and helps when people are in particular need and the Friends exist to help enhance and support the work that goes on there.”

Originally called Wallingford and District Cottage Hospital, the facility opened in 1880 and became part of the NHS in 1948 under Reading and District Hospital Management Committee.

The hospital transferred to Oxfordshire Area Health Authority in 1974, when the site was expanded to include the first purpose built and designed community hospital in the country.

The new model of Cottage Hospital was originally described as an extension of primary care, and a new concept which integrated primary care and secondary care with a wider range of services and facilities.

It is now one of Oxford Health’s eight community hospitals in the county, Wallingford provides vital physical and mental health services.

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It houses 16 in-patient beds, a first aid unit, maternity unit run by Oxford University Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust, adult mental health services, day hospital, physiotherapy, podiatry, as well as serving as a base for District Nursing Services covering Wallingford, Benson, Goring, as well as Community Therapy Services.

There are now more than 500 community hospitals across the UK. The trust has other community hospitals at, Witney, Didcot, Bicester, Abingdon and Oxford.