Spitfire fly pass recognises the proud heritage of QVH

Wednesday 13th May 2020

Spitfire fly pass recognises the proud heritage of QVH

The staff and patients at Queen Victoria Hospital were honoured to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8 May with a special Spitfire fly pass. National paper the Daily Mail asked its readers to nominate an NHS hospital to be involved in an extraordinary opportunity to mark VE Day. They were inundated with suggestions for Queen Victoria Hospital which formed one of 11 special locations across the UK to receive a sky-high visitor.

The hospital has a proud heritage which includes the treatment and rehabilitation of injured WWII airmen under the guidance of pioneering plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe and his team. As WWII progressed they treated a growing number of casualties with severe injuries which led to McIndoe looking at new ways to treat burns including use of saline to bathe them, and evolving plastic surgery techniques to become more effective in restoring wounded skin and tissue. Those who underwent two surgeries performed by McIndoe were eligible to join the Guinea Pig Club, so called because of the experimental techniques used to treat them, which was founded at the hospital in 1941.

The Spitfire fly pass was a fitting tribute to McIndoe and his legacy of treating the whole person, both physically and psychologically, which lives on at Queen Victoria Hospital today. It continues to be known as a leading specialist centre for reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation, with national and international recognition for pioneering new and innovative treatments.

Many of the hospital’s staff and patients gathered at a social distance on the hospital’s front lawn to hear the roar of the Spitfire’s merlin engine and to cheer as it did a roll of honour over right over the top of the grounds. Staff and patients had made banners and bunting which were proudly displayed. People across East Grinstead also took to their gardens and streets to see the plane which carried a special thank you NHS message on the underside of the fuselage.

Steve Jenkin, Chief Executive of Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “We are proud of our heritage and the life changing support we continue to provide to our patients today, thanks to the dedication and commitment of all of our staff. Just as our hospital had a part to play during WWII, today we are again taking on an important role, this time by supporting patients with cancer as a surgical centre during COVID-19. I’d like to thank the readers of the Daily Mail for this opportunity – it is a wonderful tribute to mark a very special hospital.”

Lt Col Tania Cubison FRCS(Plast) of the Royal Army Medical Corp who is also Deputy Medical Director at Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “During WWII, Queen Victoria Hospital, under the guidance of Sir Archibald McIndoe, played a key role in providing treatment for badly burned airmen and laying the foundations for modern plastic surgery. His approach to treating patients holistically, looking at the whole person’s physical and mental wellbeing, is a legacy that lives on in our work at the hospital today. We continue to pioneer techniques for the treatment of burns and soft tissue reconstruction, and strive to provide the best possible care for our patients.”

For more information please contact the QVH Press Office on 01342 414508.