Since 1905

Our heritage

Our History

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH). Providing expertise and specialist care since 1905

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) was founded in 1905 with the amalgamation of London’s three specialist orthopaedic hospitals into a single centre of excellence. Our history can be traced back over 180 years to 1838.

Our main hospital is located on 112 green belt acres in Stanmore, London and was formerly referred to the ‘country branch’. With our ‘town branch’ located on Bolsover Street, central London. Up until 1984 you could find our ‘town branch’ at 234 Great Portland Street.

We are the only UK centre to be a dedicated NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for cancer. Our strong focus on research means patients will have faster access to the latest drugs, treatments, clinical trials and techniques that are not available anywhere else in the world.

011918. Emergency care during the First World War.

Providing emergency care during the First World War.

During the First World War, the hospital became an emergency hospital for the military and in early 1918 also housed discharged disabled soldiers. His Majesty King George V and Queen Mary visited the hospital on two occasions to show support to the soldiers and in admiration of the hospital’s work.

In 1920 we saw the start of a RNOH hospital funds appeal and our first annual fundraising event ‘Buttercup Day’ was launched by HRH the Duke of Gloucester, Patron of RNOH. In the 1930s the hospital became known as the leading centre for the treatment of poliomyelitis and tuberculosis and in 1936 the building of the then called ‘Stanmore Cripples Training College’ was started.

The first quarter of the twentieth century saw RNOH at the forefront of significant advances in the treatment of orthopaedic conditions. Advances in scientific investigations made the diagnosis of disabling conditions more accurate, and often at an earlier stage in the patient’s illness. This meant that patients where there was no possible cure, could still be provided with appropriate treatment and the opportunity to be relieved of their pain.

021939. Caring for civilians during the Second World War

Caring for civilians from across the country during the Second World War

With the outbreak of the Second World War the hospital had many steel structured ‘Nissen’ huts built to house civilian orthopaedic cases and casualties. Patients came to RNOH from across the country, including those from other hospitals near the coast, areas close to airfields and other military installations.

031945. The RNOH training hospital

Training Hospital established

RNOH was recognised as a postgraduate teaching hospital in 1945. A recommendation was also made that an Institute of Orthopaedics should be founded and that it should be associated with RNOH. With the formation of the Institute came the joint appointment of Mr Herbert Seddon who brought together the two centres to work in partnership. In 1964 Mr Herbert Seddon was recognised for his work in orthopaedics and was awarded a Knighthood. Today, RNOH’s Sir Herbert Seddon Teaching Centre continues to host high quality training in orthopaedics.

041948. Introduction of the NHS and first hip replacement

Introduction of the NHS and first hip replacement

1948 saw the start of the National Health Service from which time RNOH became an independent teaching hospital.

In December 1948, Norman Sharp became the first person to receive a hip operation on the newly –formed NHS. This pioneering surgery was carried out by Phillip Newman at RNOH. Norman was fitted with two alloy hip cups aged just 23. These went on to be listed in the Guinness World Record Books for longest lasting hip replacement.

RNOH’s exceptional work into orthopaedic care continued when in 1950 the hospital’s range of treatments expanded to include scoliosis, back care, leg inequality, hand and peripheral nerve injuries.

Training and research continues to play an important part in the hospital’s work, resulting in the development of dedicated units, the training and teaching of consultants overseas as well as UK medical students and nurses.

051979. HRH The Prince of Wales opened a Rehabilitation Assessment Unit

Growing RNOH’s specialist services

At RNOH we are proud to offer specialist treatment and support.

In 1979, HRH The Prince of Wales opened a Rehabilitation Assessment Unit, built with funds raised by the British Motor Racing Drivers Association, in memory of Graham Hill who had once been a patient at the hospital and a Council member of the Friends.

Following years of research and treatment into spinal injuries, RNOH opened one of the first of its kind, Spinal Injuries Unit. The London Spinal Unit was officially opened by HRH the Princess of Wales in 1984

Continuing our legacy of expertise and care

In 2018, we opened The Stanmore Building. The 4th floor is home to RNOH Private Care and the building combines state-of the art facilities and care.

Patients at RNOH continue to benefit from a team of highly specialised consultants, many of whom are nationally and internationally recognised for their expertise and experience. Consultants are supported in their work by nurses, therapists and other specialist clinical staff, who are trained under our experts in their fields of orthopaedic care.

Today, RNOH is acknowledged as a leading centre of excellence offering a unique range of neuro-musculoskeletal services ranging from the most acute spinal injury or complex bone tumour to orthopaedic medicine and specialist rehabilitation for back pain suffers.

We treat conditions in both adults and children.

The hospital continues to play a major role in teaching orthopaedic surgeons in the UK and continues the tradition of cutting edge and innovative research and development through the Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science.

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"Staff were so lovely, at ease and understood what was going on. The consultant was always on hand to offer support and answer questions. The aftercare was tailored to me and got me back to dancing."

Sophie, 18 Hip Surgery

"I’m glad I won’t have to wear this brace anymore and I look forward to doing all the things I did before like trampolining and horse-riding. The care I've had at RNOH has been amazing, I’d like to thank all the doctors and nurses and the robot!"

Emma Scoliosis surgery using Mazor X Stealth Robot

"The staff at the hospital were all very helpful and cheerful. They were considerate of my situation and made me feel welcome and comfortable. I am so pleased that I chose to have my surgery there."

International patient, 29 Kuwait

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