We have a long history of health and care services in Torbay and South Devon. We’ve been capturing some of our key milestones on a timeline that’s adorning the wall of one of our main corridors at Torbay Hospital.
This short video gives a glimpse of the historical milestones that are captured in the display:
You can see the full timeline on the level 4 link corridor at Torbay Hospital.
Alternatively, please see the online version of our history below.
Have we missed a milestone or not got something quite right? Let us know.
The Beveridge report is published. One of its recommendations was that there should be a free and comprehensive health service available for all.
Torbay Hospital Nurses’ League was founded. Set up by trained nurses, for trained nurses, for friendship and support. The League is still going strong today with almost 200 members worldwide.
The National Health Service Act was passed in 1946 resulting in hospitals becoming the responsibility of the State.
Penicillin became available for the first time in the UK for public use. It transformed medicine worldwide and ushered in the age of antibiotics.
5 July 1948
The National Health Service is officially launched. The guiding principle was that it would be available to all and free at the point of delivery – financed from general taxation.
Torbay Hospital’s League of Friends was formed to raise funds for services and amenities. Over the years it has become one of the most successful Leagues in the country raising millions of pounds.
Teignmouth Community Hospital became the first complete hospital in the country to have been built under the National Health Service.
The previous hospital had been bombed and destroyed in 1941 when seven patients and three nurses died. There has been a hospital on the current site since 1925 and a hospital in Teignmouth since the 1840s.
Torbay Hospital becomes the first in the world to introduce a dedicated Infection Control Nurse.
Sir John Charnley performed the first total hip replacement operation at Wrightington Hospital.
Construction work began on a £2.5million expansion at Torbay Hospital which included new wards, an outpatient department, an accident and emergency department, a pharmacy and other clinical offices. It also included a nurse training school and residential blocks for junior medical and nursing staff.
The Seebohm Report recommended the establishment of unified social services within each major Local Authority.
The hospital expansion at Torbay was officially opened and it was designated a District General Hospital serving a population of 216,000.
We also proudly opened our school of nursing.
The hospital expansion
The Local Authority Social Services Act partially introduced the Seebohm recommendations.
The Torbay Pharmacy Department formed to service local requirements. Today it is known as Torbay Pharmaceuticals and is the largest NHS-owned contract manufacturer serving global markets.
The first commercially available CT scanner was created by British engineer Godfrey Hounsfield of EMI Laboratories in 1972. He co-invented the technology with physicist Dr Allan Cormack.
Torbay Hospital Radio was founded and started broadcasting within the hospital. They became a registered charity in 1997 and, in February 2022, they launched on 95.9FM.
TowerSound, Newton Abbot Community Hospital’s radio was founded five years later in 1982.
Life Care Radio became a registered charity in March 2014. They moved to studios at Totnes Community Hospital in 2016 and broadcast to local nursing and residential homes, hospices and to people receiving long-term care.
9 March 1978
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, visited Torbay Hospital for the official opening of the new hydrotherapy pool and telecobalt unit. This cost approximately £125,000 and the League of Friends contributed approximately £105,000.
Torbay Hospital also celebrated its Golden Jubilee and the opening of the John Parkes Children’s Unit.
25 July 1978
Louise Brown, the world’s first baby to be conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester.
18 August 1979
Sir Terence English performed the UK’s first heart transplant at Royal Papworth Hospital. The patient, Keith Castle, lived for more than five years post-transplant.
A new catering complex, Bayview restaurant, was built at Torbay Hospital.