The Hospital was dedicated to St Barnabas, “Son of Consolation” and was run from 1889 to 1956 by the nuns, firstly the Sisters of St Mary’s Home, Wantage, and then by the Community of St Margaret’s, East Grinstead, before being transferred to the NHS. During the Great War, service men were admitted. Known as St Barnabas Cottage Hospital and Convalescent Home, it was intended “for the benefit of people of both sexes residing within a range of 15 miles of Saltash who may be suffering from accident or non-contagious diseases, or who were convalescing from illness, not sufficiently strong to resume work”.
The architect, George H Fellowes-Prynn, was commissioned by the benefactor Mrs Carolyn Ley and she had the hospital built in memory of her husband, the Rev Richard Ley, priest at Rame. After her death, her home, Claremont, next door was purchased and added.
Wards were named Claremont, Peace, Brightness, Hope, Comfort, Rest, and Charity. The ‘annexe’ was originally a maternity wing with a ward for the chronically sick, and later became an outpatients department and staff accommodation.
The NHS came into being in July 1948 and St Barnabas came under Plymouth and District Hospital management committee within the South West Regional Health Board. St Barnabas had its own Home Committee who met monthly and monitored and reported on everything.
By 1968 there were 20 beds but no maternity ward. Patients were in the care of five local Medical Practitioners with attendance by specialists. The Operating Theatre and the Outpatients Department were in regular and constant use. That year the Hospital admitted 504 in-patients, undertook 243 surgical operations and treated 1,100 minor casualties.
The health needs of our community continue to grow. St Barnabas Hospital has served the area well for over 125 years and, with the support of the staff, the League of Friends and the general public, it will continue to make a significant contribution to health care for many years to come.
The hospital provides for continuing community care closer to home and so relief from travelling into Plymouth for convalescence, minor injuries and operations as well as a variety of outpatient clinics. All members of staff receive training in all departments.
The convalescent beds have a stunning view down the River Tamar and many patients comment on how this has helped their recovery.
The Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) is currently open on week days from 8 am to 3 pm. Patients do not have to wait too long! Since reopening in November 2015, they have been averaging 37 patients per month.
The Operating Theatre is to be recommissioned for day surgery and podiatry under the new NHS Kernow consortium (see NEWS & EVENTS).
There is a variety of Outpatient Clinics, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and a base for specialist teams such as the District Nurses and, more recently, Acute Care at Home which enables patients to be cared for at home and not have to stay in hospital (see below).
The National Health Service is in the process of carrying out necessary maintenance as well as refurbishing some areas. NHS Kernow is taking over management from Peninsula Community Health on April 1, 2016 (see NEWS & EVENTS).
St Barnabas will continue to provide much needed health care, especially for patients needing clinics and specialist care at home.
The League of Friends, through the tremendous financial support from the community, continues to provide equipment and facilities to support patients and staff at St Barnabas (see REVIEW). They continue to explore opportunities to increase the services for the community of Saltash and surrounding area.