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Wessex Neurological Centre celebrates fifty years

The Wessex Neurological Centre based in Southampton General Hospital is celebrating its 50th birthday. Much has changed over the last half decade since the unit was first opened its doors on 17 November 1965.  

The unit stood in splendid isolation in the grounds of Southampton General Hospital.  There were tennis courts, fields and the remnants of a pig farm between the centre and the main hospital.  The new building comprised of 70 beds and was a self contained facility. The first Neurologists were Dr Stanley Graveson and Dr Peter Robinson, and the first Neurosurgeon was Mr Jason Brice.  

In 1965 the centre served the population of just over two million which has now grown to three million.   Over the years from very small beginnings, the centre has grown into a large complex organisation whose influence has spread far beyond its walls, but without losing its sense of unity of purpose.   1999 saw the completion of a 13 bedded Neuro Intensive Care Unit.

Since that time, Southampton General Hospital has been listed as a major trauma unit. This designation means that if someone has a critical accident affecting the brain, spine or nervous system, they will immediately be transferred or flown to the hospital so they can be seen and treated in the Wessex Neurological Centre.

This provides services for over three million people from across central southern England, including Southampton, Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Salisbury, Isle of Wight, Chichester, and the Channel Islands. The catchment area has significantly grown over the years, and is a testament to the skills and professionals all working in the unit.

The centre treats patients with neuromuscular disorders, movement disorders (including Parkinson's disease), neuroinflammatory diseases (including multiple sclerosis), stroke, epilepsy and cognitive disorders. It also has a dedicated neurosciences intensive care unit, which is one of only 27 units in the UK providing specialised intensive care for patients who have severe illnesses or injury affecting their brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves.

The neurology fund of Southampton Hospital Charity is a very active fund, and many grateful patients have made donations to benefit our future patients. To make a donation, please call the charity offices on 023 8120 8881.

This brings us to 2015 and the Wessex Neurological Centre is 50 years old and to celebrate the occasion there was a function at Avington Park to incorporate ‘The Founders’ from 1965 and present day consultants and on Friday 20 November all staff from the Neurosciences Care Group will be holding a party to celebrate.  Sadly recently Mr Jason Brice and Miss Pamela Kimber have passed away but the Wessex Neurological Centre are extremely honoured and pleased that they could attend this celebration in the summer.


Founders Dinner:

Earlier in the year some of the founding members marked this special occasion with a dinner at Avington Park.

Six of the original members of staff were among the guests - Mr Ray Hunt (senior pathology technician), Judith Hope (senior ward sister), Pam Kimber (superintendent radiographer), Elizabeth Hockey (senior ward sister) and Margaret Rose (theatre sister).

Other former members of staff from the unit’s early days were in attendance alongside present day staff and management.

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