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Whipps Cross Hospital in the 1920s

The Board of Guardians was dismissed in 1926 by the Minister of Health, Neville Chamberlain, in consequence of their having run up a debt of half a million pounds. For a year or so three commissioners ran the hospital instead, before the Guardians were reinstated with a change of government. 

RLHWX-X-3-1, Daily Graphic cutting (1917).jpg
RLHWX-NE-4-1 front (1925).jpg

Medical specialists

The first specialists were appointed in 1920, to dermatology, ophthalmology, ENT and genito-urinary surgery.


The first major development to the hospital was the 'Sunlight Department' situated in the basement. Treatment was given by means of powerful carbon-arc general light baths and mercury vapour light baths of greater intensity, as well as a variant of the Finsen lamp, for the treatment of lupus vulgaris and chronic arthritis. The work of the department was eventually taken over by a new Physiotherapy Department in the early years of the NHS.

Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/NE/4/1

RLHWX-P-2-7 (nurses homes built 1920s).jpg

Nurse training

In 1921 the Central Nursing Council approved Whipps Cross as a nurse training school and examination centre for state registration. By 1924 there were 53 trained and 130 student nurses, and prizes and certificates were awarded at an annual ceremony. A training school for male nurses was established, only a few years after the first male joined the new nursing register.

Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/P/3/7

RLHWX-P-4-20 princess mary with letitia clark (c1923).jpg
RLHWX-P-4-20 princess mary with letitia clark (c1923).jpg

Matron Letitia Clark

Letitia Sarah Clark (seen on the right of Princess Mary) was born in 1870. She trained at The London Hospital under Eva Luckes between 1898 and 1900, having previously worked at Mile End Infirmary and the General Hospital, Newark (Private Staff) . In August 1901 she was appointed Night Sister to the Union Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, being promoted to Matron the following year. 

She was appointed Matron of West Ham Union Infirmary in 1907, and continued as Matron when the hospital became Whipps Cross War Hospital, and later Whipps Cross Hospital. Clark received the Royal Red Cross in recognition of her work in the First World War, and her MBE in June 1928. In 1928 Clark was an elected member of the Council of the College of Nursing, now the Royal College of Nursing.

She died on 6 Jan 1939, apparently while still in post as Matron to Whipps Cross.

Barts Health NHS Trust Archives, RLHWX/P/4/20

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