On the 14th January 1957 the British United Provident Association (BUPA) established the Nursing Homes Charitable Trust with money donated by the major provident associations of the time. The trust wanted to acquire or build community hospital facilities properly equipped for the demands of modern medicine.

In 1959, Lord Nuffield (the motor tycoon William Morris) then President of BUPA, suggested that the new charity might benefit from incorporating his name in its title and so it was re-registered as the Nuffield Nursing Homes Trust (NNHT).

Our first hospital

In the late 1950s, the Trust purchased the Strathallan nursing home in Bournemouth for £23,150. It was closed for ten months to be totally refurbished, and reopened in November as the very first Nuffield Hospital.

In its first ten years, the Trust acquired and modernised a total of six dilapidated nursing homes and built seven new ones, together providing more than 400 beds.

Our first purpose-built hospitals

The earliest purpose-built hospital opened at Woking in 1962; others followed at Exeter, Shrewsbury, Hull, Birmingham and Slough. In 1966, the NNHT opened a new flagship hospital in London’s Bryanston Square, at a cost of over half a million pounds.

The Trust’s policy was to run all sites on a strictly self-supporting basis, though non-profit-making lines. Charges from patients were expected to cover not only operating costs but repairs and depreciation.

The expansion of the 70s

During the 1970s, the work of the Trust continued to expand impressively, with another 15 hospitals opening. At the start of the 1980s, two new hospitals were opened in Stockton-on-Tees and Derby.

25 years of achievement

In 1982, the Nuffield Nursing Homes Trust celebrated its 25th anniversary, by which milestone it had grown to 31 hospitals and 1,076 beds. BUPA’s own hospitals, along with British and American commercial operators, were now providing increasing competition in the field of private acute medicine. The Trust by now had its own governance arrangements and no longer depended upon BUPA.

A new era

In 1983, the trading name of the company was changed to Nuffield Hospitals, the 'nursing homes' element of the old name being dropped because it failed to convey that the group now operated well-equipped modern hospitals offering a wide range of major surgical and medical treatments. For the first 30 years or so we had a fundraising department and actively sought donations, but that was wound up in the early 1990s as it became clear that the rising costs of modern medicine were too expensive to be met in this way and we moved to recovering the full cost of services through fees.

A new approach to health

A pioneering new approach to consumer health began in the mid 2000s. Acquisitions of the companies Tweed Park and Sona Fitness and their eventual merger to become ‘Proactive Health’, provided clinical health service access to both public and now corporate clients alike. The offer now included state of the art modern gyms within office locations equipped with the latest facilities and incorporating health services.

In November 2007, Cannons Health & Fitness was acquired, with the vision, now realised, to introduce holistic health and wellbeing offers to public fitness members, with services including physiotherapy, weight management programmes and health assessments.

A new name

July 2008, heralded the re-brand of Nuffield Hospitals, Proactive Health and Cannons to become Nuffield Health. Integrating fitness, prevention and cure across its different services and facilities under a single brand, governance and management structure became a reality. A merger toward the end of 2010 with the Bladerunner corporate fitness business established market leadership for Nuffield Health in the growing and dynamic corporate wellbeing sector.