The Foundation’s History
The Victoria Foundation was created in 2007 upon the sale of The New Victoria Hospital.
Up until the 1940’s there had been a private Hospital named The Victoria Hospital based in Kingston – adjacent to what is now Kingston Hospital. On the creation of The National Health Service after the Second World War, and after a considerable battle, The Victoria Hospital was eventually subsumed into the NHS and became the gynaecology unit of Kingston Hospital.
In May of 1958 The New Victoria Hospital was opened by the Duchess of Sutherland. The creation of the hospital was a direct outcome of a dispute that had begun in 1953 between general practitioners in Kingston, who wanted a local hospital to treat their patients, and the South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board, who had closed The Victoria hospital.
The start of Charitable work
There were 14 Kingston doctors who, in the face of ministerial opposition, formed a charitable foundation and began the battle to create a hospital of their own. The subsequent appeal met with responses from all around the world but largely from local contributors. In the five years the doctors gained the support of 5,000 contributors and had collected £35,000. This money was used to purchase Coombe Manor which was then converted into a hospital containing 21 beds.
In those days the then Chairman of the hospital, Dr Bernard Lake, calculated that the hospital would need £13,000 a year to maintain, having taken into account the two private rooms for which payment may be made!! In those days the remaining 19 rooms were to be offered free of charge!
Over time the hospital grew and the range of services expanded and it became apparent that the only way these could be funded would be to charge a commercial rate for the beds and so gradually The New Victoria Hospital became the leading private hospital in the area with all the necessary hi tech equipment that you would associate with a modern hospital. The New Victoria still however retained a very special ethos and atmosphere which in many ways reflected its charitable origins. Moreover patients suffering financial hardship were occasionally still treated on a probono basis.
In the early part of this century it became apparent however that the hospital was in need of a radical and extensive upgrade. The statutory regulations that were to be introduced meant that there was an urgent need for new theatres and the resultant upheaval that this would cause meant that in order to do the job properly a significant rebuild was necessary. This would have cost many millions of pounds, and moreover whilst this work was being performed the value of the business would have declined significantly. Trustees were thus very concerned that the level of risk that this would have meant was inappropriate for a charity.
2006 – The next phase
Fortuitously in 2006 Trustees received an offer from an Irish property millionaire who had designs that involved not only the developing of the site for residential use but also to build a brand new Hospital.
After much agonising Trustees decided that this would, taking all the circumstances into account, be the best solution for all. The staff at The New Victoria were to be retained and thus the character of the hospital would be unchanged, a new hospital would ultimately be built that would benefit patients and the Charity itself being in receipt of the proceeds of sale would be able to perform many more acts of charity as we were no longer constrained by the need to constantly reinvest any surplus in expensive capital equipment.
On March 12th 2007, after many hiccups and last minute concerns, the sale of The New Victoria Hospital took place, and The Victoria Foundation was born.
This then is the origin of The Victoria Foundation, the charitable aims of which, as one would expect given the origins of the Foundation, are very broadly medical.