Unit History: Royal Naval Hospital Haslar
The Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport, Hampshire, England, is one of several hospitals serving the Portsmouth Urban Area. The Royal Hospital Haslar officially closed as the last military hospital in the UK in 2007, and is now used by the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. It currently serves both military and civilian NHS patients.
In 2009, the 200 military personnel remaining at Haslar will move to the new Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit (MDHU) at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Portsmouth, which was opened in 2005.
Haslar has a number of specialist facilities including a decompression chamber and a zymotic isolation ward.
The Royal Hospital Haslar began as a Royal Navy hospital in 1753. It has a long and distinguished history in the medical care of service personnel in peacetime and in war.
In 1902 the hospital became known as the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar (abbreviated to RNH Haslar).
In the 1940s, RNH Haslar set up the country’s first ’blood bank’ to help treat wounded soldiers from the Second World War.
In 1966 the remit of the hospital expanded to serve all three services - the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.
In 1996 the hospital again became known as the Royal Hospital Haslar.
In 2001 the provision of acute healthcare within Royal Hospital Haslar was transferred from the Defence Secondary Care Agency to the NHS Trust. The Royal Hospital was the last MOD-owned acute hospital in the UK. The change from military control to the NHS, and the complete closure of the hospital have been the subject of considerable local controversy.
The last military-run ward is ward E5, a planned orthopaedic surgery ward. The ward encompasses 21 beds in small ’rooms’, and is run by the military staff with some NHS colleagues; the ward manager is a serving military officer. The ward is served by both military and NHS doctors; the ancillary staff are non-military.
The ward is due to close in 2009 along with the rest of the site and military staff will move to new posts within MDHU Portsmouth or other units around the country.
To mark the handover of control to the civilian NHS trust, the military medical staff marched out of RH Haslar in 2007, exercising the unit’s rights of the freedom of Gosport.
The staff consisted of Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army led by a band of the Royal Marines. The Gosport citizens are said to deeply saddened by the closure of Haslar and there are campaigns to keep the hospital open. Gosport politicians cite that that the UK is the only country in the Western world not to have a dedicated Military hospital, run by and for its military staff - who understand the needs and ideology of the service person. At present, most casualties from conflicts return to Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham.