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Happy Birthday Leicester Royal Infirmary

Friday 10 September, 2021

An important milestone will be marked this weekend

LRI oil painting c1771
An oil painting showing Leicester Infirmary shortly after it opened in 1771

This weekend marks 250 years since the opening of the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Far from the hustle and bustle of today’s building, the original hospital, the Leicester Infirmary, was built on greenbelt with just 40 beds at a cost of just £2,762.

Originally the site also had its own brewery- with both staff and patients served the beer, a vegetable patch and animals, all taken care of by the then porter.

Admission was on Tuesdays and only after the board had met in the pub and approved patients. All of those who were granted admission had to have a sponsor in place to stump up the one guinea deposit that would be returned on discharge but kept to cover funeral and burial costs on death.

By the turn of the 20th Century, the infirmary had expanded and was a large 300 bed hospital.

Its work pioneering new medical techniques and training nurses were some of the reasons that King George V agreed to grant the hospital Royal status. And so, on 22 June, 1912, the Leicester Infirmary became the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

In 2000, the Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester General Hospital and Glenfield Hospital merged to create University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, one of the largest NHS trusts in the country employing 15,000 staff with 1,000 beds and caring for more than 1 million people.

Jon Currington, head of partnerships and business development, is working with the Arts and Heritage team to arrange events commemorating the milestone.

He said: “Marking this milestone and remembering the great heritage of healthcare in Leicester together with personal stories of our patients and staff gives us all a sense of place in our local community which is so important as we move towards what is probably our largest building programme ever to make sure we can provide 21st Century healthcare for our patients in 21st Century buildings.”

Events include a dedicated Cathedral service, specially commissioned prints of LRI available to purchase, free photography courses for staff in readiness for exhibitions at each hospital before the end of the year and a collective textile artwork.

For more information email amy.orton@uhl-tr.nhs.uk

For photographs and information visit Leicester Royal Infirmary Virtual Museum