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Tower Block standing tall for 45 years

07 December 2016

Health Care

Wednesday 7 December 2016 marks 45 years of the opening tower block and other new or extended areas of Southend University Hospital – then Southend General Hospital - by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Anne.

The then Ministry of Health, on the Regional Hospital Board's recommendation, approved the preparation of plans for major extension and modernisation of the hospital in 1960.

These plans were completed in 1966 and work on the first phase of the £3 million building project began in August that year.

The brochure accompanying the Royal visit stated:

In the heart of the then new buildings stood the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. Many of the original buildings have been markedly upgraded. The main extension of the hospital has been designed in the shape of the of a large podium block at ground, mezzanine and first floor levels, with an eight storey ward block rising above containing 227 beds. The following accommodation has also been provided and is in use:

Accident department, pathological department, six new operating theatres, eight diagnostic X-ray rooms, a second cobalt unit, a pharmacy, a central sterile supply department, an educational centre, residential accommodation and a magnificent out-patient department.

45 years later and some of the areas may have moved around, been reconfigured or redesigned but the same dedication - that stands as tall as that of the nine floor tower block itself - to the care of patients still remains.

Princess Anne Ward

And of course Princess Anne still remains at the hospital, as one of the tower block wards was named after Her Royal Highness in honour of her visit. Today it is a care of the elderly ward with 29 beds specialising in both dementia care and complex medical problems for those aged over 65.

Of the anniversary its Ward Manager, Helen Cullen, said: "It's a real privilege for our ward to be named after Princess Anne, commemorating her visit from 1971. As well as meaning a lot to staff it is also has an instantly recognisable name for older patients, many of whom are over 65 and are big fans of the Royal Family. For those with dementia I think the name has an additional importance as it provides another familiarity."