At St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London’s West Smithfield, nine gentlemen administrators, from some of the oldest and most eminent voluntary hospitals in the metropolis, met to found the Hospital Officers’ Club.
With Dr J C Steele (Guy’s) in the Chair, and on the proposition of Mr W H Cross (Bart’s), seconded by Mr W J Nixon (The London), the club agreed unanimously that:
‘It is desirable to establish a club for the purpose of social intercourse tending to frank interchange of opinion between gentlemen actively engaged in the administration of Public Hospitals….and that such a club shall be called the Hospital Officers’ Club, and the several gentlemen now present do constitute themselves members thereof’.
Those founding nine comprised J S Blyth (Royal Free), W H Cross (Bart’s), P Michelli (St Mary’s), N H Nixon (University College), W J Nixon (The London), S M Quennell (Westminster), A E Reade (Charing Cross), Dr J C Steele (Guy’s) and F Walker (St Thomas’s).
The first annual subscription to the Club was set at 2/6d (probably now equivalent to £4 or £5) and it was agreed that three ordinary meetings should be held in each year on the last Fridays of February, June and October, when members should dine together and be free to invite visitors if they so wished. In addition, the committee was empowered to call a special meeting whenever it felt this to be necessary, for dining, business discussion or any other purpose, subject to a week’s notice being given.
The advent of the Hospital Officers’ Club, however, despite it being largely London oriented, undoubtedly introduced an additional and useful piece of cohesion into the jigsaw of an essentially fragmented British hospital world. The real value of its appearance on the late Victorian hospital administrative scene was to be found, as Mr R Kershaw (Central London Throat and Ear Hospital) put it when proposing the health of the President at the Trocadero Restaurant on 30th June 1916, ‘in the excellent results which had followed upon its foundation in the breaking down of the barriers between the hospitals and [between] hospital officers, which had previously existed’.