10 March 2017 CEO Blog post

A small, special hospital

I delivered this speech at our Year of Celebration service in Baschurch on the 4th March. As I approach my first anniversary as Chief Executive I thought I should share it with those who were not able to hear it.

“Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt were extraordinary people with vision, dedication and determination to improve health care. 

By including both in our hospital name, we are unique in the UK in giving shared recognition to both a doctor and a nurse in this way.

Learning from them and from the past has never been more relevant in the modern NHS. Their inspiration and courage to improve, to learn and importantly the love, compassion and kindness they showed to their patients and their staff are as relevant today as they were in their time.

Sir Robert was known as ‘The Father of Orthopaedics’ – his legacy extends not just across our hospital but across the whole profession.

Dame Agnes was a nurse whose tireless work came despite a debilitating hip condition she had suffered since the age of nine. It was this condition that brought her and Sir Robert together at the start of the 20th Century.

Together – doctor and nurse in partnership – they started something special that has evolved into the hospital of world renown that we know today.(note – I would like to think they would have added a therapist if they were here now!)

They did not do it all alone, of course, and today we have a strong team without whom we could not function. I would like to highlight a few of those now:

  • Our members. We have almost six thousand members, and it is great to have some of you here with us today. Your support is so very vital to us.
  • Our governors: they have a thankless task. They give up their own time, for no financial reward, and perform a vital role in representing their communities and supporting our patients.
  • Our fabulous fundraisers – including the League of Friends, who have also done so much to make today possible,
  • Our friends in The Orthopaedic Institute who raise funds to support our world class research and education
  • Our tireless volunteers who support us in so many ways.
  • Our patients - you come from Shropshire, Wales and across the UK. We thank you for choosing us and we thank you for allowing us to care.   

The hospital as we know it now, really took shape after the move to its present site – from here in Baschurch – in 1921. It was called the Shropshire Orthopaedic Hospital, taking its current name shortly after Sir Robert’s death in 1933.

By the time Dame Agnes also passed away in 1948, it had become part of the newly-formed National Health Service.

Since then, it has grown and evolved. We have always been known for orthopaedic excellence. Did you know we carry out more joint replacement procedures than any other hospital in the UK?

A small, special hospital in a field in the middle of the countryside.

Trainee doctors from across the world have come to our hospital to get education from the very best in their quest to become Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons.

The best nurses and therapists come because of our strong education partnerships with the University of Staffordshire and with Keele. Our legacy as a centre of education is significant and we must maintain this.

A small, special hospital in a field in the middle of the countryside.

But we also do so much more.

The medical side of the Trust has been maintained throughout with Sheldon Ward, our dedicated Care of the Elderly ward and expert medical input to care for all our patients.

The Rheumatology, the Metabolic Bone care of the Trust, have been integral to the Hospital’s success.

The Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries was established in 1966 and continues as a centre of excellence renown across the world. 

Our bone cancer service and our children’s service delivers amazing care to some very vulnerable patients, I could go on…………………

Our work on Research has been on the cutting edge. The appointment of the first Professor of Orthopaedics at Oswestry came in 1978. That was Professor Brian O’Connor, who was followed by our current Professor, James Richardson.  Their work on cell culture of the musculoskeletal system is world class.

Those of you here who work at the hospital will hopefully have heard me speaking about our plans going forward.

We would like to play a greater role in the Shropshire health system, keeping people well and pain free, treating them brilliantly if they need an orthopaedic operation, and helping them home and to stay well afterwards.

This is a model I am sure Sir Robert and Dame Agnes would have approved of.

They themselves established a hub and spoke model with the Orthopaedic Hospital at the centre and outreach services in local hospitals in the likes of Shrewsbury, Wrexham and Crewe.

We are looking forward with optimism and confidence – and we can do so with the strength that our remarkable legacy gives us.

A small, special hospital in a field in the middle of the countryside.

The NHS is changing. Many of advancements in medicine are for the better BUT we must continue to find a space in a world of” bigger is better” because when the outcomes are brilliant and the care is world class, and tax payer is receiving great value……that small, specialist services are just as important.

This part of the world is privileged to have this legacy and as guardians of the NHS we must celebrate it, improve it and protect it.

Finally, I want to thank the staff. Dame Agnes was described as having “a loft spirit, which could not be bent or broken”, Robert Jones was described as radiating “love, kindliness and hope”.

Well, I can assure you, and I can assure them that the staff at Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic NHS Foundation Trust, a small, special hospital in a field in the middle of the countryside are as spirited, loving, kindly and as brilliant as ever. 

I thank them for what they have done in the past, what they will do in the future and what they are doing today.”



Mark Brandreth
Chief Executive


Image of Mark Brandreth, Chief Executive

Do you have any thoughts or comments on this blog entry?

If so, please send to rjah.chief.executive@nhs.net.