Celebrating 120 years of The King's Fund

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Today marks 120 years since the establishment of The King’s Fund was announced on 6 February 1897.

The Fund is now set to celebrate the anniversary through a series of blogs reflecting on each decade of its history and through sharing people’s experiences of working with the Fund and its impact on health and care services.

The blogs, which will be published over the course of 2017, will make use of the Fund’s extensive library and archive to bring its history to life and to explore the ways in which health care policy and practice have changed.

The Fund was established by the then Prince of Wales to raise money for London’s voluntary hospitals. Originally the Prince of Wales Hospital Fund for London, it was renamed when the Prince became King Edward VII. Much of the Fund’s work during its first decades was concerned with supporting London’s teaching hospitals through grant giving and other means.

Following the creation of the NHS in 1948, the Fund’s role developed with the establishment of the staff college in 1951; in time this became The King’s Fund College. The college and its successors have contributed to developing health care leaders in England. The King’s Fund Centre was established in 1963 to provide information, conduct inquiries, and act as a forum for the exchange of experience and ideas. The King’s Fund Institute, established in 1986, marked the beginning of the Fund’s work as a think tank concerned with the analysis and improvement of health policy.

The Fund has produced around 2,000 publications over the course of its history and contributed to a wide range of health and care innovations. Highlights include its leadership on improving nutrition, diet, and food in hospitals in the 1940s, and designing a new bed in the 1960s which became standard issue across the country and is still used in hospitals today. The Fund has also continued to take an interest in the improvement of health services in London.

More recently, the Wanless Social Care Review in 2006, and the Barker Commission on the future of health and social care in England in 2014, have produced landmark reports that have shaped debate on the need for fundamental reforms to how health and social care are funded and delivered. The Fund has been prominent in making the case for care to be more integrated and in supporting the implementation of new care models designed to promote integration. A major inquiry that reported in 2011 highlighted the need to strengthen general practice.

The King’s Fund of today combines activities formerly undertaken by the College, the Institute and the Centre. Alongside other sources of income, its endowment is used to support the work of 125 staff involved in a wide range of activities including leadership and organisational development, policy analysis and research, and information provision. The Fund’s headquarters in central London continue to act as a forum for the exchange of experience and ideas and a meeting place for leaders from health care and related sectors.

Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:

‘The original Prince of Wales Hospital Fund for London was set up in 1897 to improve health care. 120 years on that original mission remains central to everything we do.

‘Over the years, the Fund has played a key role in shaping policy and practice and supporting people and organisations working in health.

‘The knowledge and expertise we have accumulated over the past 120 years is an important part of our heritage. Our independence enables us to speak truth to power and to contribute to improvements in health and care across England.’

Notes to editors

More details on 120 years of The King’s Fund and the Fund’s history can be found here.

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585 (if calling out of hours, please ring 07584 146035).

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.