At 13.20 GMT a fire started at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Chelsea, London. It has destroyed much of the roof and swept through a large part of the hospital. Over 100 firefighters are fighting the blaze. So far, one patient and two firefighters are reported to have suffered smoke inhalation. A hospital spokesman says the whole hospital has been successfully evacuated. Reports indicate that some patients were placed on mattresses out in the street until ambulances came to take them away to St. Paul’s Church (Onslow Square), the Royal Bromptom Hospital and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

There were about 80-90 patients at the hospital when the fire started. The Royal Marsden Hospital is one of the most well-known cancer hospitals in the world.

According to the London Fire Brigade, the fire started in an area of the hospital where there were no patients – on the fourth floor of the building, which is a laboratory area used for research. Reports indicate that this was part of a new wing built in the 1980s. However, it spread fast and made the evacuation inevitable. An entire floor of the hospital was gutted. The London Fire Brigade has described the fire as “a very big and serious fire”.

About the Royal Marsden Hospital

It was the first hospital in the world dedicated to treating and studying cancer. Dr. William Marsden founded it in 1851, and called it the Free Cancer Hospital.

Dr. Marsden was deeply affected by this death of his wife, Elizabeth Ann, who died from cancer. He set about classifying tumors, researching the causes of cancer, and finding new treatments. The hospital started off as a dispensary, the drugs prescribed were palliative and aimed at treating the symptoms. However, Dr. Marsden had the opportunity to research the disease.

During the 1850s the hospital changed location several times. In 1862 it moved to its new (permanent) site on Fulham Road, Chelsea.

The hospital was granted its Royal Charter of Incorporation by King George V in 1910 and became known as The Cancer Hospital (Free). This was subsequently changed by King Edward VIII to include the word ‘Royal’ and in 1954 the hospital was renamed The Royal Marsden Hospital in recognition of the vision and commitment of its founder.

In 1948, when the National Health Service (NHS) was formed, the Royal Marsden became a post-graduate teaching hospital. In 1962 a second hospital in Sutton, Surrey (south west of London) was opened.

In 1991 it was awarded the Queen’s Award for Technology for its drug development work. In 1996 it achieved the international quality standard ISO 9001 for radiotherapy and in 2003 for chemotherapy.

The Royal Marsden is recognized as one of six centers of excellence in the Government’s NHS Plan.

More about the Royal Marsden Hospital

Written by – Christian Nordqvist