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Pioneering Queen Mary’s Hospital celebrates 100 years since it paved the way for plastic surgery

PUBLISHED: 15:53 29 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:29 29 August 2017

Queen Mary's Hospital, or Queen's Hospital as it was known in 1917, treated First World War soldiers with facial injuries

Queen Mary's Hospital, or Queen's Hospital as it was known in 1917, treated First World War soldiers with facial injuries

Archant

The hospital treated more than 5,000 First World War casualties

Queen Mary's Hospital opened as Queen's Hospital on the site of Frognal House, pictured.Queen Mary's Hospital opened as Queen's Hospital on the site of Frognal House, pictured.

A century of history at the pioneering Queen Mary’s Hospital will be celebrated next week with a special exhibition.

Originally opened as the Queen’s Hospital on the Frognal House site, it was designed and built as a specialist facility to treat military casualties with facial injuries.

In its first eight years, the hospital treated more than 5,000 patients in acute and convalescent beds.

The hospital saw surgeons and medical experts from across the Commonwealth give birth to plastic surgery.

In its first eight years, the hospital treated 5,000 First World War veteransIn its first eight years, the hospital treated 5,000 First World War veterans

A far cry from the cosmetic work known today, the surgery was specifically for veterans who had suffered burns or taken shrapnel to the face overseas.

Retired Queen Mary’s consultant doctor Andrew Bamji is set to release a book on the pioneering work, led by surgeon Harold Gillies.

“Many people believe facial surgery, particularly for burns, began at East Grinstead under Archibald McIndoe with the ‘guinea pigs’ of the Royal Air Force,” said Dr Bamji.

“But Harold Gillies at Sidcup was the true pioneer, nearly 70 burns patients were treated there.”

Patients were given photographs of their progress from when they first arrived at the hospitalPatients were given photographs of their progress from when they first arrived at the hospital

A blue bench is set to be unveiled baring Harold Gillies’ name at the hospital’s centenary event next month.

When patients were treated at Queen Mary’s, some nearby benches were painted blue, offering a place to sit for men who may have struggled facing the public once more.

Dr Harold Gillies spoke of the support available to wounded veterans: “At Sidcup the patient was almost part of the team; the huge numbers of patients enabled newcomers to be encouraged by those who had gone before.

“Patients were given sets of photographs to take away, perhaps to remind them how bad things might have been without surgery.”

From 10.30am to 3.30pm an open day September 9 will celebrate hospital’s anniversary, offering tours around its new facilities, a historical exhibition along with entertainment.

Andy Trotter, chair of Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust said: “We’re all really looking forward to this special occasion in the hospital’s history and are very pleased that Dr Bamji is able to join us to help bring to life the hospital’s rich past and the truly outstanding work of Harold Gillies.”

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