Remembering The Acci - Birmingham’s world famous hospital from World War II to 1993

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Birmingham Accident Hospital was set up to treat victims of The Blits in World War II and went on to treat Pub Bombings victims and many more patients

It was the hospital set-up to treat Birmingham victims of The Blitz during the war’s darkest days. 

But it wasn’t just those injured by Hitler’s bombs who received ground-breaking treatment at Birmingham Accident Hospital, the world’s first trauma centre. Industrial accidents had increased 40 per cent as inexperienced workers entered wartime factories. 

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Launched in 1941 at the former Queen’s Hospital, “The Acci” closed in 1993. But its legacy lives on through the ground-breaking work carried out at Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s trauma centre in Edgbaston. 

Many owe a great deal to The Acci – and not just those injured in conflict. Before the compulsory use of crash-helmets, its research helped the hundreds of cyclists seriously injured on our roads. 

In 1974, victims of the Birmingham Pub bombings were taken to the facility. The long list of VIPs who toured the hospital included Princess Diana in 1990. Now a book chronicling the impact of the world famous hospital has been published. Leading members of the medical profession and military personnel this week gathered at the Queen Elizabeth for the official launch of “The Acci” by Professor of Emergency Medicine, Prof Ian Greaves. 

Birmingham Accident Hospital.Birmingham Accident Hospital.
Birmingham Accident Hospital. | Mike Lockley

Emeritus Professor of Clinical Traumatology, Sir Keith Porter, who commissioned the book, said: “Birmingham Accident Hospital was at the forefront in almost every clinical advance from the wide introduction of antibiotics to the establishment of critical care in trauma. 

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“Regarded as the World’s first dedicated trauma centre, the hospital took in the injured from the Blitz in its early days, and from the Birmingham Pub Bombings in 1974, which happened a mere mile away from Bath Row. 

“What was learned on the ground there, in what was a hugely innovative centre of advanced trauma care and rehabilitation, were the principles which underlie all of today’s advanced civilian and military trauma care.” The Acci opened largely thanks to generous donations from local factories. Back in 1941, it has 322 beds, but 83 – located on the top floor – were not used because of the risk from air raids. 

The building's work soon received high praise. In 1944, Sir Patrick Hannon, Member of Parliament for Moseley, told the House of Commons: “The hospital is giving the lead in the rehabilitation and restoration of injured and wounded men to make them fit for industry, and their work should be known throughout the length and breadth of the land.” 

Author Ian Greaves, is a military emergency medicine consultant who worked at both the Acci and Selly Oak Hospital.Ian oversaw the provision of emergency medicine and prehospital care in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

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