1 An introduction to the hospital

1.1 Leeds General Infirmary

To explore care in the setting of an acute hospital, I visited Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) in the winter of 1996. The hospital provides a service of medical and surgical care for local people and, because it is a specialist teaching hospital with a medical school attached, patients are referred from all over the region for specialist advice, treatment and care. The hospital occupies a bewilderingly large, sprawling site in the centre of Leeds. It is a mix of the old and the new, and at the time I first visited it staff were particularly looking forward to the opening of a new building, providing a brand-new accident and emergency service and another 14 operating theatres. Its improved facilities for heart and brain surgery, people were saying, would make this hospital one of the best in Europe. LGI was part of what was then called the United Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust. In 1996, the trust employed over 7,000 staff and managed another six sites in Leeds and the surrounding area. It dealt with well over 1,000 inpatients, another 500 day patients and more than 7,500 outpatients every week. Like other trusts it acknowledged severe financial difficulties, its waiting lists for admission remained high and certain areas of much-needed investment were on hold.

Update: Change at Leeds

In 2002 I contacted David Lee, Head of Continuing Professional Development at Leeds, to find out about changes there since this section was written. He noted that the General Infirmary at Leeds has become part of a group now called the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, one of the largest in Europe. It was created in 1998 following a merger. There are eight hospital sites and over 15,000 staff serving a local population of over 250,000. As a centre for regional specialities it needs to cater for a population in excess of 4 million. David has contributed to this chunk and provided us with a view of the change going on in Hospital Trusts.