Safe hospital passes milestone
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
ST LUKE’s Hospital for the Clergy will take in its 100,000th patient next
week. It is a milestone in the history of a charitable hospital that, in the
words of its chief executive, John Cherry, “punches above its weight”. Last
year was a record one for patient numbers at St Luke’s, which has been judged
the safest hospital in the country.
St Luke’s, a 22-bed hospital funded by voluntary donations, was founded in
1892, and has been in Fitzroy Square, central London, since 1907. It gives free
treatment to Anglican clergy, their widows and widowers, spouses and children,
as well as to Church Army officers, members of religious orders, overseas
missionaries, licensed theological students and their families, and licensed
It has 224 honorary consultants of all faiths, who operate on clergy
patients for no charge. It also has a unique relationship with local NHS
hospitals, which enables blood tests, special X-rays and scans, pathology and
histology, and the provision of certain drugs to be done for free for UK
patients with a National Insurance number.
The number of operations has doubled in recent years; the 2004 total is
likely to reach 700. There is a waiting-list of nurses who want to work at the
hospital, even though its pay rates are 10-20 per cent lower than those of the
“It’s a proud boast of the hospital that we get patients back on their knees
faster than the NHS can. We get them in quicker, treat them quicker and keep
them a bit longer to improve their mobility and fitness when they get back out
into the community,” says Mr Cherry.
There are no intensive-care beds at the hospital — a facility that would
cost an additional £500,000 a year. This rules out operations such as heart
surgery and hip replacements. The three Hs — “hysterectomies, hernias and
haemorrhoids” — are defined as acute surgery, but patients transferred to
specialist hospitals return to St Luke’s for convalescence after 48 hours.
A care-standards report, due to be published today, judges it the UK’s
safest hospital, with no MRSA in the building and a wound-infection rate of
0.02 per cent — the lowest in the country. Mr Cherry says: “We have some
significant advantages. We’re a small hospital with our own catering and
cleaning staff, and we’ve done a lot in terms of getting dedicated people who
want to work here. Top consultants fall in love with the place.”
St Luke’s costs £4000 a day to run and takes private patients to offset the
costs. It serves the whole Anglican Communion, and while the conditions for
which it treats UK clergy are not immediately life-threatening, treatment can
be a matter of life and death for overseas patients who present a dilemma
because they have no National Insurance number.