The Queen Elizabeth Hospital was officially opened by the Queen Mother in 1948 and has served the community in Gateshead for decades.
Improvements through the decades
The QE Hospital started as an infectious diseases hospital as part of a pre-war hospital centralisation. A plan to extend the hospital was developed in 1939 but was interrupted due to World War 2. This meant that the work to develop the hospital wasn’t completed until 1945.
A general hospital was later built on the same site and in December 1943, the maternity unit was opened. Some of our first patients in the general wards were expectant mothers evacuated from London in the autumn of 1944.
Over the difficult war years, the QE gradually grew and by 1948 the hospital had 110 beds and 34 maternity beds. The site also included a two-storey central administrative block in which there was residential accommodation, outpatient departments and staff dining rooms. There was also a theatre with its own anaesthetic room, and an x-ray department.
Back in 1948, student nurses on night duty all lived at Bensham Hospital. Other student nurses, together with sisters and staff nurses, were housed in a ward converted into cubicles at the QE. Trained staff were able to be non-residents if they wished and worked a three-shift pattern.
Queen Elizabeth (who become the Queen Mother) officially opened the extensions to the hospital on Thursday 18 March 1948.
The Queen Mother also met nurses and doctors and also visited the maternity unit, which was allowed to open for its original purpose during the war.
There were improvements to the hospital in 1967 with the addition of an Outpatients Department, an A&E, a new operating theatre and a medical records department.