Wrightington Hospital

Scope and Content

A history of the Hospital, published in 1983.

Administrative / Biographical History

The early twentieth century saw a growing need for tuberculosis hospitals. There were important developments in the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis. Legislation, such as the 1911 National Insurance Act, and compulsory notification, increased the need for tuberculosis provision. While there was some provision in the Manchester Region, with Manchester Hospital for Consumption and Baguley Sanatorium, the need for more beds was great, especially for children. In 1920, the Tuberculosis Committee of Lancashire County Council planned a large tuberculosis hospital. It bought Wrightington Hall and estate, in a good location six miles north-west of Wigan. Due to negotiations with the Ministry of Health, Wrightington Sanatorium was not opened until 1931. with 226 beds, including 146 for children, only 6 patients. Wrightington was a large hospital with 226 beds (146 for children), this caused staffing difficulties. Wrightington, as a large specialist tuberculosis hospital run by a local authority, was unique. Sir Robert Jones, orthopaedic surgeon, was appointed honorary consulting surgeon at and Harry Platt was a consultant surgeon. Wrightington took patients from all over Lancashire. It treated patients according to established sanatorium regimes, making sure patients received rest, fresh air and good food. There was also a modern artificial light department.

Whilst Wrightington was not commandeered for the War, the Emergency Medical Service built seven extra wards. After the War these became available to the hospital. After the War, a thoracic surgical unit (later developed into Chest Unit before closing in 1968) and a genito-urinary unit were developed. Under the NHS, tuberculosis was governed by Regional Health Authorities rather than local authorities, removing control from the Tuberculosis Committee. This period saw new treatment with antibiotics and prevention in the form of pasteurised milk etc. The NHS also saw modernisation of Wrightington Hospital and close cooperation with Wigan Hospitals. This cooperation, combined with the reduction in numbers of tuberculosis sufferers, caused a rapid move away from the major emphasis on tuberculosis. Wrightington developed as a centre for orthopaedic surgery and rheumatology. Sir John Charnley established the Centre for Hip Surgery at Wrightington in 1961, pioneering developments in hip surgery with the introduction of a new type of artificial hip. The Rheumatology Unit was opened in 1967. There was a separate Hospital School for the education of children from 1932, this closed in 1980. In 2001 Wrightington merged with Wigan and Leigh Health Services to form Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust. Wrightington still specialises in joint surgery and rheumatism.

Related Material

Some of the Hospital's records are held by Lancashire Archives (ref: HRWR)