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Over 65 years of innovation

Check out our timeline to see how research and innovation has played a key role in transforming healthcare in Sheffield and beyond.

1948

The National Health Service is born.

1949

Sheffield becomes the first place in the country to pioneer the van de Graff generator to treat cancer by beaming radiation on to the tumour. The £2 million generator is housed at the David Morrison Research Department, which opens in 1949. Twenty years later the centre becomes part of Weston Park Hospital.

1968

The first foundations of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital are laid.

1970

Weston Park Hospital is officially opened by HRH Princess Anne and quickly becomes established as a centre of excellence for cancer care. Over the past 65 years, cancer survival rates have doubled, with six times as many patients being seen and treated at Weston Park in 2013 compared to 30 years ago.

1978

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital opens. The iconic building took decades to build and plan. Today it is one of several sites across the city caring for patients from across the region, including Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham – with some specialist services being accessed from patients as far afield as the US.

1985

The first ever transplant for a patient suffering with non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system is undertaken by Sheffield’s haematology department, a unit specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the blood and bone marrow. The transplant is ‘autolgous’ – meaning the patient donated blood or tissue to themselves.

Previously inoperable brain tumours can now be treated with bursts of radiation rather than with invasive surgery thanks to the opening of the National Centre for Stereotactic Radiosurgery which is initially based at Weston Park Hospital. The centre, now at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, is one of the first in the world to open, and boasts three hi-tech gamma knife machines. It is the first in Europe outside Sweden to offer the ‘experimental’ treatment which is now used as a primary treatment for all kinds of conditions.

1986

The first Sheffield IVF babies are born.

1988

Sheffield becomes one of the first centres in the UK to start using the Ilizarov technique, a novel treatment developed in Soviet Russia that can treat fractures, correct deformity and lengthen limbs by fixing a circular ring to the limb. Today Sheffield remains a leading centre for using this technique.

1989

A teacher with a young family becomes Sheffield’s first heart transplant patient – she survives for another ten years.

1990

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals becomes the first hospital in the UK to employ an epilepsy specialist nurse and support the establishment of the role across the UK.

1992

One of the country’s first medical assessment units opens at the Northern General Hospital. The opening of the unit – which generates significant interest at the time – offers a new way of managing emergency admissions, seeing patients who are referred by their GP or A&E to undergo further assessment and investigation on the ward.

1995

A groundbreaking specialist unit diagnosing and treating blood vessel disorders opens at the Northern General Hospital. The unit – which combines the skills of surgeons with interventional radiologists, who use minimally invasive techniques to treat patients at high risk of stroke, heart attacks and kidney failure as an alternative to traditional surgery – goes on to become the first in the country to perform a number of landmark treatments.

This includes the use of a small metal-mesh tube known as a carotid stent to unblock potentially life-threatening narrow or hardened arteries in 1998, the use of therapy to protect the brain’s nerves when using carotid stents in 1999, and, most recently, the use of radio-frequency energy waves to destroy nerve connections in kidney patients whose high blood pressure can not be controlled by conventional treatments.

1997

A clinical nurse specialist in clinical immunology and allergy, Fran Ashworth, champions the development of Sheffield’s home therapy service. This pioneering care revolutionises the lives of people who are unable to fight infections properly due to antibody deficiencies. Patients quickly report the benefits – living relatively normal lives without the need for frequent hospital visits.

1999

Weston Park Hospital’s Cancer Clinical Trials Centre is opened by HRH Duchess of Gloucester. Since then nearly 900 trials, involving over 16,000 patients, have taken place here and pushed forward advances in cancer treatment.

2001

The new purpose-built Jessop Wing maternity unit opens. Approximately 7,000 babies are born here every year.

2002

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals pioneers the use of ‘pill cameras’ – tiny capsules swallowed to take pictures of the small intestine. It becomes the first centre in the UK to use these in clinical practice.

Weston Park Hospital opens its Teenage Cancer Trust unit, which treats treats young cancer patients aged 17 to 24 from Sheffield and beyond. The ward is one of the first in the UK, with more children and young adults surviving cancer as a result.

2004

The clinical immunology and allergy unit opens at the Northern General Hospital. This dedicated unit allows patients to receive outpatient and ambulatory care in a specialised centre rather than on general medical wards. 

2005

Sheffield’s limb reconstruction begins using a new method called vacuum assisted closure (VAC) instill to treat hard-to-manage bone infections. The treatment, which promotes rapid wound healing by placing another tube into the wound to control infection through a process of instilling, soaking and suction, has a 80% success rate.

The Jessop Wing Hospital becomes the first IVF unit in the UK to meet the European Union Tissue and Cells banking directives by introducing a state-of-the-art IVF lab which improves IVF success rates by limiting the amount of external sources that can damage embryos and cells. This also enables the University of Sheffield’s stem cell laboratory to be located within the IVF laboratory suite.

2006

Sheffield’s state-of-the-art Clinical Research Facility opens. The unit is the first of two dedicated research centres. The second unit opens in 2009. Both are now formally recognised by the Department of Health as units of excellence, and have provided more than 32,000 appointments for patients taking part in potentially life-saving research including research into diabetes, heart, respiratory, bone and kidney diseases.

Patients who would otherwise have had to stay in hospital for prolonged intravenous antibiotic therapy to fight serious infections begin to benefit from Sheffield’s Outpatient Parenteral Antibiotic Therapy service. Here they can receive treatment in the comfort of their own homes or in an outpatient clinic – with Sheffield being one of the first NHS Trusts in the UK to start offering the service. Ninety per cent of patients with chronic infections see improvements in their illness as a result.

2007

Treatment for a rare incurable disease, ataxia, which causes loss of voluntary muscle control, resulting in lack of balance and coordination, is boosted when the Royal Hallamshire Hospital’s Ataxia Service becomes the first in the country to be named as a national centre of excellence. The service is also the first in the UK to employ a dedicated ataxia nurse, funded by Ataxia UK.

2008

The patient environment becomes safer thanks to new hydrogen peroxide vapour machines, which destroy almost all bacteria and superbugs. The machines can still be seen in use at the Royal Hallamshire and Northern General Hospital today.

Leukaemia transplant survivor Anthony Kirkham, who had his transplant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals the year previously, triumphs at the British Transplant Games in Sheffield, winning his first gold medal in cycling. He goes on to become an eight-times gold medal winner at the Games.

Ten patients with a rare form of bone marrow cancer called myeloma take part in the first ever study looking at the impact of having intensive chemotherapy or stem cell transplants in a non- clinical setting. This reduces their length of hospital stay.

2009

The life of an unborn baby, Arthur Fountain, is saved thanks to a 25-strong team from Sheffield’s Jessop Wing Hospital who perform a groundbreaking operation to remove a tumour the size of an orange from his neck. The team are the first in the region to perform the Ex-utero Intra-partum Treatment (EXIT) procedure.

The regional HIV network is set up, enabling HIV specialists across South Yorkshire to work together to ensure that the highest standards of care are available to all patients accessing HIV services by sharing best practice and expertise.

2010

The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, officially opens the £18m Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, a world-class facility bringing together 150 international clinicians and scientists working together to bring new hope to patients suffering from motor neurone disease. It is led by Professor Pamela Shaw, a consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and is the only one of its kind in Europe.

The Royal Hallamshire Hospital begins to introduce its innovative Hospital At Night service. This improved service at night ensures that patients receive the best possible care and the most appropriate and timely interventions, delivered by the most relevant clinical professional from a multidisciplinary team. The service is subsequently rolled out to the Northern General Hospital (2011) and Weston Park Hospital (2012).

2011

The first specialist nurse in the UK – and possibly the world – to give independent advice on images taken from a pill-sized camera swallowed to diagnose bowel and cancer problems begins work at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

2013

More help becomes available for cancer sufferers and patients with inherited blood disorders when a state-of-the-art £11 million laboratory centre opens at the Northern General Hospital. The centre, which is able to process more than 10 million tests a year, benefits patients from hospitals across the region, including in the UK and Europe.

The Sheffield Vision Centre purchase a new hi-tech femtosecond ‘blade- free’ laser, which allows surgeons to make very precise incisions in the cornea to remove everything that needs to be cut in extremely short femtoseconds (or quadrillionths of a second).

The first operation using pioneering robotic surgery takes place at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.The £1.8 million hi-tech robot helper, called the DaVinci robot, is a sophisticated way for specially trained surgeons to perform delicate, complex and less invasive surgery and will lead to shorter recovery time and reduced hospital stays.

2014

The Trust becomes the first NHS hospital in the UK to start offering appropriate patients Oraya Therapy, a new non-invasive treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD),  the leading cause of blindness in the western world. Oraya Therapy delivers painless, highly targeted, low-energy X-rays to the eye, reducing or stopping the need for unpleasant anti-VEGF injections by controlling or stopping leakage in the eyes.

Neurosurgeons at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital are the first in the UK to begin using life-saving ultrasonic bone cutter tools in spinal surgery – which are precise enough to cut through the bone, leaving blood vessels, nerves and tissue undamaged. The innovative surgical instrument - which is hailed by neurosurgeons as an important advancement in spinal surgery - and reduces the risk of trauma and blood loss during surgery, making spinal surgery much safer.

2015

Professor Basil Sharrack, Consultant Neurologist and Professor John Snowden, Consultant Haematologist and Director of Bone Marrow Transplantation at the Trust, pioneer a new stem cell treatment which is the first to reverse the symptoms of MS. The treatment works by ‘rebooting’ the immune system in some multiple sclerosis sufferers and is hailed as an encouraging step forward in the treatment of the disease in sufferers who fail to respond to standard therapies.

 
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