What happens at Barts today?
Today, Barts remains a teaching hospital of international renown in the centre of London, on the same site upon which it was founded 890 years ago. Substantial redevelopment has taken place in the past 10 years, with the renovation of old buildings and the addition of new ones that pay respect and homage to the Gibbs design of the hospital. The fountain in the quadrangle has also been painstakingly restored after many years of neglect. The medical school continues to thrive as a world class centre for research and both under- and post-graduate education.
The Hospital itself continues to treat patients, with inpatient facilities primarily dedicated to cancer and cardiac care, whilst the outpatients department delivers health services to a wide variety of specialties. Partnership opportunities with the neighbouring University College Hospital have also been developed to ensure the future of clinical services in Smithfield, although their precise make-up are yet to be finalized.
The Archives are still present in The North Wing, representing a nine century old repository of medical records and documents relating to everything from 16th Century monarchical despotism to the rise of medicine with social conscience – something demonstrated in earnest by the hospital since its foundation.
St Bartholomew-the-Less remains an active parish church within the walls of the hospital with regular services.
Cock Lane, once home to The Royal College of Surgeons building for the dissection of dead criminals is now home to The Barts Charity. This charity is independent of but closely allied to the NHS Trust and medical school and tirelessly supports excellence in healthcare by funding research and clinical development projects that the NHS might otherwise not be able to support.
As active and lively as the hospital is today, the buildings that represent its glorious 18th Century rebirth, returning Phoenix-like from the flames of the fire of London and the threat of bankruptcy that followed, are in grave danger. The staggering artwork and primary source historical documentation are no safer. The formation of the NHS has meant that the management of these historical monuments has been neglected and they continue to fall into a shameful state of disrepair. They are at-risk. Nearly 900 years history of medicine and social conscience in London is at-risk. We must save it. We have a duty to do so.