Maudsley Hospital

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Maudsley Hospital
Established 1907
Construction Began 1913
Opened 1923
Current Status Active
Building Style Single Building
Location Denmark Hill, London
Alternate Names


Work on the Maudsley was completed, after which the hospital was requisitioned for use by the War Office. Construction of the Maudsley Hospital main building was authorized in October 1913 and completed two years later by which time building and site costs had risen to £69,750.

Six wards (two for assessment and four for treatment) housed 144 beds rather than the 108 originally planned. The red-brick Portland stone design resembled a district general hospital or town hall rather than a prison or asylum.

Yet the opening of the hospital to fulfil Henry Maudsley's original vision was still some way off. Before its completion, the hospital was requisitioned by the War Office to deal with the military casualties of the First World War. While physical injuries and disabilities were treated at King's College Hospital (or the 4th London Hospital General, as it was called by the military), those suffering from the serious and puzzling condition then known as 'shell shock' were sent to its subsidiary, Maudsley Hospital (or 'Neurological Clearing Hospital') on the other side of Denmark Hill.

There research was conducted into the pathology of the disorder, and patients were encouraged into carpentry, gardening and recreation in an attempt to restore their basic functioning and confidence. A specific Act of Parliament had to be obtained in 1915 to allow the institution to accept voluntary patients. All patients labelled as 'neurological' (unwounded, but suffering from neurasthenia, the functional paralyses, hysteria or milder psychoses) were transferred to the Camberwell-based hospital. Patients received a short preliminary course of treatment, after which many recovered rapidly and could return to light duty. The more serious cases were transferred to other hospitals provided for the purpose, such as the Springfield War Hospital in Wandsworth.

In 1916 the King and Queen visited and were pleased with the arrangements and accommodation for the treatment of soldiers. By 1917 the hospital accommodated 185 soldiers and 18 officers with shell-shock, neurasthenia or acute mental disorder. After the war the hospital was demobilised but, from August 1919 until October 1920, it was funded by the Ministry of Pensions to treat ex-servicemen suffering from neurasthenia.

Henry Maudsley lived to see the hospital used during the war but died before it was open for civilian purposes. The Maudsley Hospital, which had been requisitioned by the War Office during the First World War, was returned to the control of London County Council and finally opened in February 1923.

The hospital offered treatment for both early and acute cases and had an out-patient clinic. It also housed teaching and research. The Maudsley's nursing staff included a matron, assistant matron, six sisters and 19 staff nurses with at least three years' general hospital training, supported by 23 probationers and 12 male nurses. The Maudsley had a good reputation for training nurses and some applicants even traveled overseas to train there. A report (held at Bethlem's Archives and Museum) from a nurse who trained at the Maudsley shows some of the work of a new trainee: "Apart from observation and simple treatment, nurses are trained in special investigations and therapy. They carry out many of the routine psychometric tests, help as technicians in the ward laboratories, and are instructors in occupational therapy".

The 1920s and 30s saw a significant growth in the number of patients treated at the Maudsley Hospital. Originally, there was no provision for the treatment of children and the rapid growth in this patient population was unforeseen. In 1928, a child guidance clinic was set up under the directorship of Dr William Moodie, the deputy medical superintendent.

The Children's Department was promoted as an example of the value of teamwork with psychiatrists to diagnose and to prescribe, psychologists for mental testing, social workers to deal with the environmental side and voluntary workers to observe the activities of the children in the play room. The demand for these services led to the construction of a dedicated building where children were seen as outpatients. In 1947 a dedicated inpatient unit for children was opened.

Henry Maudsley was committed to psychiatric research, and the hospital incorporated the Central Pathological Laboratory transferred from Claybury Asylum. Although the hospital initially struggled to secure funding from the Medical Research Council, in 1938, the Rockefeller Foundation made a substantial award to support research and education and the Maudsley has been an internationally renowned centre for research ever since.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, with the threat of air-raids, the Maudsley closed and staff dispersed to two locations: a temporary hospital at Mill Hill School in north London and Belmont Hospital in Sutton, Surrey. Staff returned to the Maudsley site in 1945 and three years later the Maudsley joined up with the Bethlem Royal Hospital to become partners in the newly established NHS as a postgraduate psychiatric teaching hospital. The Maudsley's medical school became the IoP.

In 1999, South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM) was formed from the merger of three organisations: Bethlem and Maudsley, Lambeth Healthcare and Lewisham and Guy's NHS Trusts. The Trust was established to provide mental health services and substance misuse services in the London Boroughs of Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark, as well as specialist services to people from across the UK. [1]