Today, Liverpool Women’s is a concentration of highly specialised skills, experience and facilities. Yet before 1995 those capabilities were spread much more widely. To see how it all came together we need to look at the histories of three earlier hospitals in Liverpool.
The Liverpool Maternity Hospital
In 1796 a group of public-spirited Liverpool ladies realised something was lacking for the female population of the rapidly developing port. They accordingly set up a charity to provide medical care and assistance with childbirth to ‘reputable married women and widows resident in the town’.
This early example of specialisation did not operate in a hospital, but took doctor and midwife services to patients’ homes. It carried on its valuable activity independently for almost 90 years.
About half-way through that period, perhaps prompted by the Ladies Charity efforts, the council opened its own Lying-In Hospital. The two organisations ran side by side for decades, until the overlapping capabilities were amalgamated into the Brownlow Hill Lying-In Hospital in 1884.
The busy port was now a city, demanding suitable facilities for its inhabitants. As a result the Lying-In Hospital evolved, through updating, re-siting and re-naming, into the Liverpool Maternity Hospital. The new, improved model opened on Oxford Street in 1926 as the largest voluntary maternity hospital in Britain.
The Women’s Hospital
The original Lying-In Hospital treated all aspects of women’s health, but, gradually, medical opinion turned against mixing maternity patients with other operative cases due to the risk of infection. A committee started raising funds for a separate, non-maternity establishment, and in 1883 the Special Hospital for Women opened in Shaw Street.
Interest in specialist treatment for women was clearly growing in Liverpool at the turn of the twentieth century. Yet another such hospital, the Samaritan, opened in Upper Warwick Street in 1895, and moved to Upper Parliament Street in 1900.
Once again, as both hospitals developed it became clear that amalgamation would mean greater efficiency. In due course the two became one: the Liverpool and Samaritan Hospital for Women, later re-titled the Women’s Hospital. The Duchess of York opened the new building in Catharine Street in 1932.
Mill Road Hospital
The local Board of Guardians built the West Derby Union Workhouse Hospital in 1852 for the sick poor of the parish. It became Mill Road Infirmary in 1891, and operated from then on as a general hospital for around fifty years.
The Second World War put an end to all that. The Infirmary was badly bombed, and in 1941 patients were transferred from the damaged building to Broadgreen Hospital. What was left was restored and upgraded in 1947, but now as a specialist gynaecology and obstetric hospital rather than a general infirmary. It continued as Mill Road Hospital until the early 1990s. By then exciting plans were under way for a huge step forward in women’s health care in Liverpool, and Mill Road’s services were wound down in anticipation.
The Birth of Liverpool Women’s
In 1985 administration of these three famous hospitals was assumed by the Liverpool Obstetric and Gynaecology Unit. The Unit became an NHS Trust in 1992 and changed its title to Liverpool Women's Hospital NHS Trust in 1994.
Then, in 1995, the Trust’s new £30M hospital for women and babies was launched, concentrating the three hospitals’ historic capabilities in