Spire Murrayfield celebrates 30 years of Private Healthcare on the Wirral
September 15th will be a very auspicious date this year. Now, many readers will know this is already Battle of Britain Day, an opportunity to pay our respects to ‘The Few’ made so famous by Winston Churchill’s oratory. However, the date commemorates another important landmark – the 30th Anniversary of Spire Murrayfield Hospital. To mark the occasion, Rob Jackson looks back on three decades of private healthcare in the area.
Today, Spire Murrayfield may seem an integral part of the local landscape. Yet it was not always like this. Indeed, for most of the 20th century the Wirral had no private hospital of its own at all. While comparable parts of the country were enjoying private healthcare on their doorstep, Wirral patients and their visitors had to cross the Mersey to Liverpool’s Lourdes, or else travel to the Nuffield in Chester.
Consultants, too, were required to drive miles around the region on their rounds, often starting their day alongside the farmyard cockerel and finishing well after the last cow had come home. Clearly, an unsatisfactory situation all-round. In the late 1960’s, Mr. Ken Edwardson, Consultant Surgeon at Clatterbridge Hospital, could see just how inadequate the existing arrangements were.
For example, at Clatterbridge you could opt for private treatment but had to be accommodated in a side room attached to the main ward. Although offering excellent healthcare, like many contemporary NHS hospitals Clatterbridge was an institution with its origins in the Dickensian workhouse era. Some wards were even housed in converted military huts. Facilities at Lourdes were also far from ideal. At that time, there was only one operating theatre. This meant that if there were any problems, operations needed to be rescheduled, often involving a 2 or 3 hour delay. Not good news for anybody.