A History of Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth

By Tim Lambert

The Early Hospital

The Queen Alexandra Hospital began as a military hospital. It was needed to replace an older hospital that stood on Lion Street in Portsea.

Queen Alexandra Hospital was built in the years 1904-1908. The red brick buildings stood on the slopes of Portsdown Hill overlooking the village of Cosham. Paulsgrove was then a hamlet by Southampton Road. Wymering was also a quiet little village. However, trams known as the green cars passed the hospital on their way up the hill to Horndean.

In 1926 the hospital was taken over by the Ministry of Pensions. It was used to care for disabled ex-servicemen (who were the responsibility of the Ministry of Pensions). However, during the Second World War, the first civilian patients were taken to the hospital. Several huts were built to extend the hospital. However, the huts stayed for many years after the war.

In 1951 540 of the 640 beds at the hospital were transferred to the NHS. For a time the remaining 100 beds were reserved for ex-servicemen. The new NHS hospital rapidly developed. A League of Friends was formed in 1952.

In 1955 a Cerebral Palsy Unit was built. (It officially opened in 1956). It had 2 classrooms, a physiotherapy room, a speech therapy room, a staff room, and a kitchen. A new outpatient department was added in 1957.

In 1958 the hospital gained a chapel.

The Modern Hospital

In 1960 a new boiler system was installed in the hospital. In 1962 the League of Friends provided money for 2 new day rooms for the hospital. Also in 1962, the main block was refurbished. Until then the hospital was pretty grim. An attempt was made to make it more pleasant and comfortable. By 1962 patients had the latest luxury – a TV. Furthermore, in 1969 QA gained a library.

Then, in the late 1960s plans were unveiled to transform Alexandra Hospital into a general hospital with a major accident and emergency department. Work on building the new hospital began in 1968. In the first phase, a new eye department was built. So was a nurse’s training school. At the same time, two 3-story blocks were built for staff accommodation. Later two 9-story blocks were built for staff accommodation. They were completed in 1976. At first, it was planned to build three new ward blocks. However, in the end, only two were built.

In 1979 patients were transferred from the Royal Hospital. Princess Alexandra officially opened Queen Alexandra Hospital in 1980. Also in 1980, a Breast Unit opened at the hospital.

In 1980-1983 the South Block was refurbished. The Trevor Howell Day Hospital opened in 1983. A new diabetes unit opened in 1988. In 1991 a new Rehabilitation Unit opened.

Meanwhile, many people raised money for the hospital to buy new equipment. In 1982 members of staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital did a parachute jump to raise funds.

In 1999 it was decided to rebuild the QA. Plans for the new building were adopted in 2004. The new Queen Alexandra Hospital opened in 2009. In 2020 Queen Alexandra Hospital was awarded university hospital status.

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