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History of the Friends

The Friends story began in October 1952, when a group of local residents answered an appeal to take part in an association to be known as The Friends of Barnet Hospitals. Its purpose was to encourage and support the interests of the community in the welfare of the patients and staff of the three local hospitals and supply amenities not covered by the National Health Service.

Over the years the Friends supplied all three Barnet Hospitals with such things as a Recreation Halls for Wellhouse and St. Stephens Hospitals, a Trolley Service and a Father's Room at the Victoria Cottage Hospital. Sad to say the Victoria Maternity Hospital (as the Cottage Hospital had become) closed in 1987 when the Maternity Unit was transferred to the Edgware Hospital site, and St. Stephens Hospital was closed in 1989 when the decision was made to do away with geriatric wards. The Wellhouse Hospital was taken over by the Barnet General Hospital NHS Trust and the decision to rebuild the hospital was taken. Later Chase Farm Hospital was taken over by the Trust and our hospital ceased to be a General Hospital as certain facilities were transferred to the Chase Farm site.

In 1978 the Friends funded the setting up of a personal radio service for the patients in Barnet General Hospital, Hospital Radio Barnet is run by a large group of volunteers who are all members of the friends and give up their spare time each week to entertain patients during their stay in hospital. Ward visitors actively encourage patients to become involved with the station output by asking them to choose the music they want to hear.

The Friends were affiliated to the National League of Friends in 1953 and their invaluable advice over the years has helped us to raise over a million pounds and they helped us when we opened our first Hospital Shop in 1974. Today the hospital shop is a major source of funds for the Friends.

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