The new St. Peter’s Hospital came in to existence in 1947, and until the formation of the NHS the following year, was run by Surrey County Council.
The nurses and consultants who had come from St Thomas’s Hospital, London at the start of the War remained at Chertsey until 1947 when they were recalled to London. This left a real shortage of staff at the hospital, which served the local areas of Chertsey, Egham, Walton-on-Thames and Woking, and so a Training School for nurses opened to try to bridge the gap. Compared with the modern hospitals of today, care was very primitive during the early years of the hospital. Instruments were sterilised by nurses using a fish kettle over a gas ring, and any breakages had to be paid for – for example, 6d was taken out of a nurse’s wages if she broke a thermometer.
St. Peter’s Hospital expanded from the huts originally built to house the war casualties, and over time more huts were added until they reached the top of the slope. The Ramp, the area in between the two rows of huts, was covered over to make a central internal corridor, but aside from this little else changed until the 1970s. In the first nine months of operation under the new NHS it cost £314,079 to run the 403 bed hospital. In these early days there were no specialist services at St. Peter’s.
For example, there was no accident and emergency department with a dedicated team of nurses until 1962. If there was a sudden influx of emergency cases, staff were called away from the general wards leaving other patients without nursing care. However, when the Accident Centre was opened, it was unlike anything else in the area and became the prototype for similar centres across the county.
Over the last 40 years St. Peter’s has undergone almost continuous expansion and development to create the state or the art hospital it is today. This modernisation started with the opening of a maternity unit in 1970 which now serves the whole of North West Surrey, but it wasn’t until 1981 that The Ramp ceased to be the main focus of the hospital. At this time the new Outpatients block, the McLeod Centre, was built and the main entrance to the hospital was moved from The Ramp to the current site.
Throughout the 1990s further expansion was needed to meet the growing demand and changes in medical practice and treatment. In the early 1990s Botleys Park Colony closed and the remaining patients were transferred to the new Abraham Cowley Unit. The Blanche Heriot Unit opened in 1991; a new ward block was added (1992); the orthopaedic centre opened (1998); the intensive care unit was built (1998) and finally, in 1998 St. Peter’s merged with Ashford Hospital to form an NHS Trust.