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King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is an acute care facility in Denmark Hill, Camberwell in the London Borough of Lambeth, referred to locally and by staff simply as "King's" or abbreviated internally to "KCH". It serves an inner city population of 700,000 in the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, but also serves as a tertiary referral centre in certain specialties to millions of people in southern England. It is a large teaching hospital and is, with Guy's Hospital and St. Thomas' Hospital, the location of King's College London School of Medicine and one of the institutions that comprise the King's Health Partners, an academic health science centre. The chief executive is Nick Moberley.[3]

King's College Hospital (KCH)
King's Health Partners
King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
King's College Hospital1.jpg
King's College Hospital main entrance
Location Denmark Hill
London, SE5
United Kingdom[1]
Care system NHS
Hospital type Teaching
Affiliated university King's College London
Emergency department Yes, and Major Trauma Centre
Beds 950[2]
Speciality Liver Disease, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Dentistry, Trauma (medicine)
Founded 1840, current site 1909


Early historyEdit

King's College Hospital in Portugal Street, Lincoln Inn Fields c1840s
Plaque marking where King's College Hospital once stood, now on LSE grounds
King's College Hospital Administration Building, early 20th century photo
King's College Hospital Administration Building, 21st century photo

King's was originally opened in 1840 in the disused St Clement Danes workhouse in Portugal Street close to Lincoln's Inn Fields and King's College London itself. It was used as a training facility where medical students of King's College could practice and receive instruction from the college's own professors. The surrounding area there was composed of overcrowded slums characterised by poverty and disease. Within two years of opening, the hospital was treating 1,290 inpatients in 120 beds, with two patients sharing a bed by no means unusual. The main contractor for the new hospital was Lucas Brothers.[4] It was one of the first hospitals to start nurse training, in 1856. [5]

Pioneer of aseptic surgery Joseph Lister performed the first major elective surgery under strict antiseptic conditions in 1877. He helped propel the hospital to have a surgical unit comparable with the best in Europe.

In the first years of the 20th century, demographic changes saw a decrease in the number of patients requiring treatment in the centre of London, and an increase of patients from further afield – notably Camberwell, Peckham and Brixton which were then suburbs on the outskirts of London. Following an Act of Parliament in 1904, a foundation stone was laid for the new hospital, designed by William Pite, in 1909 at its present site at Denmark Hill, south of the River Thames. The move to Denmark Hill provided the hospital with a greenfield-site nearer to its patients. The building itself incorporated modern design principles to encourage adequate ventilation, used electric clocks throughout, contained only the second internal phone installation in the UK at the time, and generated its own power through the use of diesel engines.

Pre-clinical training of medical students remained the responsibility of King's College London, whilst advanced medical training took place at the hospital under the auspices of a newly formed King's College Hospital Medical School. During the period of World War I, a large proportion of the hospital was used for military purposes. A dental school was established at the same site in 1923. During this time most patients were still poor and highly vulnerable to contagious diseases such as tuberculosis. In 1937 the private Guthrie wing was established with a donation from the Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society for wealthier patients to enjoy less crowded wards. During the Second World War the hospital was used for treating casualties of air raids, and was fortunate never to sustain a major direct hit.

Modern historyEdit

The Hospital's Day Surgery building
King's College Hospital, entrance to the Guthrie Clinic

Following the creation of the National Health Service in 1948, the hospital was granted Teaching Hospital status. In 1974 the NHS re-organisation saw King's become the centre for all health services management in its catchment area. The hospital's medical school was reunited with King's College in 1983 to form King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry. A purpose-built medical education centre, the Weston Education Centre, was built in 1997 and contains a medical library as well as hosting conferences, symposia, and professional training events as well as containing public access computer rooms for students. In 1998 King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry merged with the United Medical and Dental Schools (UMDS) of Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals to form Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine, commonly abbreviated to "GKT". In 2002 the Golden Jubilee wing was completed, which hosts a number of outpatient clinics as well as therapy suites for speech and language, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. In 2008 King's College Hospital was the first UK hospital to appoint a Chief Executive from the private sector with the appointment of Tim Smart from BT Global Services UK.[6]

In December 2013 it was announced that a proposed merger with Guy's and St Thomas' and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts had been suspended because of doubts about the reaction of the Competition Commission.[7]

The Trust took over the management of Princess Royal University Hospital in October 2013 after the dissolution of the South London Healthcare NHS Trust. Over Christmas 2013 8 patients there waited on trolleys for more than 12 hours for admission, the largest number of trolley waits in England.[8]

The hospital is situated mainly on Bessemer Road, which is completely contained within the hospital grounds. Although the classically-styled Hambleden Wing Entrance is still the official Main Entrance, the Golden Jubilee Wing Entrance about 100m to the north-east has become the de facto Main Entrance, due to its being directly opposite Caldecot Road (where pedestrians arrive from the Coldharbour Lane bus stops) and having the ambulance parking spaces in front of it. There are also the A&E Entrance (although there is no unaccompanied patient access between A&E and the rest of the hospital) and the Denmark Wing Entrance on Denmark Hill, whilst on Bessemer Road is the Bessemer Wing Entrance, and there is also the Cheyne Wing Entrance on an unnamed service road at the south-west of the main building.

Commercial venturesEdit

The trust used its commercial arm, KCH Management, to open a clinic in Abu Dhabi in November 2014.[9] It is working with investment management company Ashmore Group to set up a hospital in Dubai due to open in 2018. It has an agreement with Indo UK Healthcare Private to create an institute of health in New Chandigarh where a 500-bed hospital, trauma centre and day surgery centre will also be built. The trust will be paid by a fixed fee, profit share arrangements, equity stakes and consultancy work and hopes to generate £40m over 15 years.[10]

The trust is a partner in Viapath a London-based provider of pathology services jointly owned with Serco, and Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.[11]

In 2011 it was reported that the trust was paid around £1m for the sale of NHS donor livers to overseas private patients. Controversy arose around this practice after a 2009 review by the Organ Donations Taskforce, commissioned by the UK government's Department of Health had already recommended a ban on the practice and stated that 'Financial gain from the transplant of donated organs feels morally wrong'.[12]

In 2016 the trust established a subsidiary company, King’s Interventional Facilities Management LLP, jointly owned by the trust and its subsidiary Kings Commercial Services Ltd, to which 99 estates and facilities staff were transferred. The intention was to achieve VAT benefits, as well as pay bill savings, by recruiting new staff on less expensive non-NHS contracts. VAT benefits arise because NHS trusts can only claim VAT back on a small subset of goods and services they buy. The Value Added Tax Act 1994 provides a mechanism through which NHS trusts can qualify for refunds on contracted out services.[13]

The trust expanded its private patient unit from 21 to 46 beds in 2017. About 45% of the revenue comes from overseas, mainly from liver transplants.[14]

It sold its assisted conception unit to the Fetal Medicine Foundation and a company called King's Fertility for a total of £26 million in June 2017. Kypros Nicolaides, a foetal medicine consultant at the trust, is a director of both organisations.[15]


In March 2015 the Trust forecast a deficit for the financial year of £42.5 million. It has a very large backlog of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment. Monitor launched an investigation into the trust because of 'long standing problems' at Princess Royal University Hospital in March 2015. Financial problems are attributed to urgent improvements to the quality of care there, including increasing the nurse-to-patient ratio by recruiting 260 new nurses.[16]

The trust now expects to finish 2015–16 with a deficit of more than £65 million partly as a result of changes to the NHS tariff.[17]

It was said to be the least efficient hospital in England according to Lord Carter's review of NHS efficiency, with potential savings of £154 million a year.[18] In December 2017 it was placed in financial special measures and Lord Bob Kerslake, Chair of the trust, resigned. The organisation’s chief operating officer and finance director had resigned in November. [19]


It was one of the first trusts to introduce a comprehensive public Wi-Fi service. The basic service costs £4.50 a day but is free on the children's wards.[20]

Tertiary care specialitiesEdit

Ambulance entrance

It is one of the biggest provider of specialised services in England, which generated an income of £308.8 million in 2014/5.[21]

King's Liver Unit is the most comprehensive service of its kind in the world, with a strong interest in paediatric liver cancers. King's also operates the largest liver transplantion programme in Europe.

There is a great deal of expertise within King's Department of Neurology/Neurosciences. There is a large outpatient movement disorder clinic, specialising in multidisciplinary team management of Parkinson's disease, dystonia, progressive supranuclear palsy, and related diseases. It is one of only five centres in the European Union designated a "Centre of Excellence" by the National Parkinson Foundation. In 1995 Professor Nigel Leigh established the UK's first specialist Motor Neurone Disease Care & Research Centre, a model of care which has since been reproduced at 13 other centres throughout the country.[1] The emphasis is on rapid diagnosis, management by a multidisciplinary team, with a strong focus on basic science research and clinical trials.

The hospital is also home to the only dedicated diverticular disease clinic.[22]


On the opposite side of the A215 (Denmark Hill) is the Maudsley psychiatric hospital, which has close links with King's. The Institute of Psychiatry is nearby and many doctors at King's collaborate with their academic colleagues in carrying out research in conditions such as Parkinson's disease and Motor neurone disease. The Denmark Hill Campus of King's College London is also on Denmark Hill although the main Strand campus is further along the 68 bus route at Aldwych. The nearest railway station is Denmark Hill railway station. The hospital is near Ruskin Park on the other side of a railway line.


The hospital was featured in Channel 4's documentary 24 Hours in A&E from 11 May 2011 to 16 June 2014. The documentary focuses on the hospital's accident and emergency department and is filmed using 70 different cameras strategically placed to capture the workings of the department without interference.[23] It was also featured in Louis Theroux's 2016 documentary Drinking to Oblivion

Notable alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "King's College Hospital Address". 
  2. ^ "NursingNetUK: King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust". Retrieved 4 November 2008. 
  3. ^ "Executive Directors". King's College Hospital NHS FT. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "Charles Lucas". 
  5. ^ Abel-Smith, Brian (1960). A History of the Nursing Profession. London: Heinemann. p. 19. 
  6. ^ Serco Group plc. Ethos Journal  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Trust super-merger shelved". Health Service Journal. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "Eight patients left on trolleys for over 12 hours". Health Service Journal. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "The NHS underplays how valuable its expertise is internationally". Health Service Journal. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Leading London trust to open India and Dubai hospitals". Health Service Journal. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  11. ^ "Viapath – a New Brand, Same Commitment to Transform Pathology Services". Select Science. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Borland, Sophie (March 24, 2013). "Foreign private patients pay tens of thousands of pounds for livers donated to the NHS". Daily Mail. Retrieved February 1, 2018. 
  13. ^ "In full: Trusts with staff transfer plans". Health Service Journal. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2018. 
  14. ^ "NHS expands private care to help fill £20bn funding gap". Financial Times. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Cash-strapped trust sells specialist unit to private company and charity". Health Service Journal. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017. 
  16. ^ "Monitor investigates major London trust". Health Service Journal. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Rollover tariff trusts expect massive deficits". Health Service Journal. 26 May 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  18. ^ "Least efficient hospital trusts according to headline measure". Health Service Journal. 5 January 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2016. 
  19. ^ "Major London trust chair resigns as trust put into financial special measures". Health Service Journal. 10 December 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2018. 
  20. ^ "Supplement: Can I watch Netflix from my hospital bed?". Health Service Journal. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  21. ^ "Analysed: The biggest NHS providers of specialised services". Health Service Journal. 16 October 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  22. ^ Kvasnovsky, Charlotte L.; Adams, Katie; Papagrigoriadis, Savvas (April 2015). "Diverticular disease as a chronic gastrointestinal condition". European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 27 (4): 442–448. doi:10.1097/MEG.0000000000000304. PMID 25874519. 
  23. ^ "Channel 4 Documentaries – 24 Hours in A&E". Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  24. ^ "Old stories, new histories". The Iron Roo. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 

External linksEdit