A YEAR of celebrations has been planned to mark the 21st anniversary of Salisbury District Hospital.

In 1993, the 229-year-old Salisbury General Infirmary in Fisherton Street closed and patients and services were transferred to Odstock, bringing all the city’s hospital care on to one site.

The American army built the hospital at Odstock in 1942 to help the infirmary deal with casualties from the D-Day landings.

At the end of the war the hospital was handed over to the Salisbury Health Authority and a specialist burns unit, rehabilitation department and Macmillan unit were added.

A spinal injuries treatment centre was built and opened by the Prince and Princes of Wales in 1984.

In 1987, work started to develop the hospital with the long-term aim of closing the infirmary and bringing all hospital wards together.

Six years later the new hospital was officially opened by the Duchess of Kent and named Salisbury District Hospital.

The Salisbury Infirmary was closed and sold, and has since been redeveloped into flats.

A second large-scale building project was completed in 2006 when the regional burns service, elderly care and orthopaedic wards moved into purposebuilt modern buildings at the hospital.

Since then a keyhole theatre suite, vascular unit, cardiac suite and dermatology treatment centre have been added.

And more recently the children’s unit, and A&E and neonatal intensive care departments have been refurbished and new areas have been added to the hospital including Horatio’s Garden, the Benson bereavement suite, a burns unit roof garden and new charity shops.

These days Salisbury District Hospital employs around 3,900 people who provide care for 225,000 people in Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire.

Many staff will be taking part in events throughout the year to commemorate the hospital’s 21st anniversary.

Chief executive Peter Hill and Gwyn Blenkinsop, who oversaw the move from the infirmary to Odstock in 1993, will be making speeches and a toast on January 22 when an exhibition of photographs, stories and memorabilia will open.

A photographic display is up in the corridors on levels 3 and 4 and there will be a celebratory menu in Springs restaurant on January 22.

In April there will be an open day for NHS Foundation Trust members to showcase the work that takes place across the hospital and celebrate the achievements of staff.

“This is a key moment in our history and marks 21 years of continuing change and improvement to local health services,”

said Mr Hill.

“Our staff continue to lead the way with top class research and a number of awards and achievements that mark Salisbury District Hospital out as a special place to work and receive care and treatment.

“This anniversary gives us the opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has contributed in some way to the hospital as we know it today.”

  • A NUMBER of hospital staff who made the transition from the infirmary to Odstock, still work for the trust today.

Senior nurse in the infection control team Fiona McCarthy and nurse consultant in critical care Maria Ford both trained at Salisbury School of Nursing in the 1980s and have seen a great many changes during their careers.

“The infirmary had these huge, long Nightingale-style wards where you would see everyone,” recalled Miss Ford. “But the atmosphere was very different – you did exactly what your ward sister told you and nobody ever questioned the doctors.

“These days we encourage patients to be much more aware of their conditions and the options available to them and there is more discussion.

“Technology and developments in medicine have also brought huge changes – some of the things we can do now we wouldn’t have dreamed would ever be possible in the infirmary.”

Moving from one hospital to another took a huge amount of planning but went without any serious hitches.

“There was some sadness about leaving such a historic building but that was mixed with a feeling of excitement about going somewhere new and purpose-built,” added Mrs McCarthy.

“There are quite a few of us who transferred and are still here, which shows the pride we have in the hospital.”