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The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust is located in Withingtonmarker, Manchestermarker, and is one of the largest cancer treatment centres in Europe. The Christie became a NHS Foundation Trust in April 2007 and is also an international leader in cancer research and development, and home to the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research.


Foundation of the Christie Hospital

Sir Joseph Whitworth left money in his will of 1887 to be spent at the discretion of three legatees. Some of that money was used to buy land off Oxford Road, adjacent to Owens College and intended to allow the movement of the central Manchester hospitals out of the crowded city centre. A committee chaired by one of the Whitworth legatees, Richard Christie, was established in 1890 and, partly funded by a legacy of £10,000 from Daniel Proctor, a Cancer Pavilion and Home for Incurables was founded on the site in 1892 some distance south-east of the eye hospital. In 1901 it was renamed the Christie Hospital in honour of Richard Christie and his wife Helen. It was the only hospital in the provinces for the treatment of cancer alone and active in pathological research.

Foundation of the Holt Institute

In 1901, the Christie Management Committee agreed to the request of Dr Robert Biggs Wild to spend £50 on the equipment necessary to test the efficacy of X ray treatment, after promising results reported from London and from three patients treated in the Physics Laboratory of Professor Schuster locally in Owens College. The Roentgen apparatus was purchased, but no records survive of treatment, and by 1907 the equipment was no longer being used (it was given to the Skin Hospital in 1910). By 1905, Dr Wild had become interested in the therapeutic use of the newly discovered radium and experimented, once more with aid from Professor Schuster, on three patients. Radium was expensive, however, and the management refused to purchase any more until the results of tests from London hospitals were available. By 1914, a leading local doctor, Sir William Milligan, had begun a campaign in the 'Manchester Guardian' to raise funds for radium treatment. Appealing to a mixture of local pride and the contemporary enthusiasm for the curative powers of radium, an appeal was launched, on the advice of Ernest Rutherford, for £25,000. An initial contribution of £2000 from local brewer Edward Holt was not initially much emulated, but following the intervention of the Mayor, a series of 'Radium days' were organized which eventually raised enough money to start a small Radium Institute, initially housed in the Manchester Royal Infirmary. In 1921 it moved to new premises in Nelson Street donated by Sir Edward and Lady Holt, and became the Manchester and District Radium Institute.By contrast with the dispersed and competitive provision of London radiotherapy, Manchester became the first provider of a centralised radiotherapy service, which would have long-lasting effects on the patterns of British cancer care.

The Christie at Withington

In 1932 the Institute, renamed as the Holt Radium Institute, and the Christie Hospital moved to a new joint site in Withingtonmarker and began to be jointly managed although a formal merger did not occur until 1946.

Ralston Paterson was appointed as Director of the Radium Institute in 1931, and went on to build a world recognised centre for the treatment of cancer by radiation. Among the team was his wife Edith Paterson, who started research work at the Christie in 1938, initially unpaid, and who became a world-renowned pioneer in biological dosimetry, childhood cancers and anti-cancer drug treatment methods .

Early impetuses to research came from new local diseases of industrialisation such as mule spinners' cancer and chimney sweep's cancer, and the search for links to machine oils and airborne soot. Subsequent therapeutic milestones have included:
  • 1932 - development of the Manchester Method, the first international standard for radium treatment
  • 1944 - world's first clinical trial of diethylstilbestrol (Stilboestrol) for breast cancer
  • 1970 - world's first clinical use of tamoxifen (Nolvadex) for breast cancer
  • 1986 - world's first use of cultured bone marrow for leukaemia treatment
  • 1991 - world's first single harvest blood stem-cell transplant

Paterson Institute for Cancer Research

When the Patersons retired in 1962, Professor Laszlo Lajtha was appointed as the first full-time director of the research laboratories, which he named after the Patersons. Lajtha added research into his own fields of interest, experimental haematology and epithelial biology. New research laboratories, provided by the Women's Trust Fund, were opened in 1966. The Women's Trust Fund was a local charity, chaired by Lady Margaret Holt, daughter-in-law of Sir Edward Holt, who left her entire estate of over £8 million to the Christie when she died in 1997. Core funding for the laboratories was secured from the Medical Research Council and the Cancer Research Campaign (CRC). The CRC also located the CRC Department of Medical Oncology, led by Professor Derek Crowther, at the Paterson.

Professor Lajtha was succeeded as Director in 1983 by Professor David Harnden, who introduced molecular biology and built-up cancer genetics. He set up a new Department of Drug Development which combined various groups working on drugs already in the clinic and new generation drugs. He was briefly succeeded by Professor T. Michael Dexter before Professor Nic Jones became the Director in March 1999.

The laboratory has been further enlarged with support from the Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund, the Cancer Research Campaign, the Christie Hospital Research Endowments and, once again, the Women's Trust Fund. In 1981 the Cancer Research Campaign took over sole responsibility for the major funding of the Institute but the Christie Hospital Research Endowments also provide much support.


The Christie registers around 12,500 new patients and treats about 40,000 patients every year. It is the lead cancer centre for the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cancer Network, covering a population of 3.2 million, and runs clinics at 16 other general hospitals.Around 15% of patients are referred from outside Greater Manchester and Cheshire, and there is also a private patients unit. Patients are referred from district general hospitals, having already had their cancer diagnosed.

The Christie provides services including specialist surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, palliative and supportive care and endocrinology. It has one of the largest radiotherapy departments in the world, with over 80,000 radiotherapy treatments a year. It annually delivers over 30,000 chemotherapy treatments and undertakes around 3,700 operations every year. It has one of the eight dedicated teenage cancer units in the United Kingdom. It has 257 inpatient beds with an average length of stay of seven days.

The hospital has one of the largest clinical trials units in the United Kingdom for phase I/II cancer trials, with around 1,200 patients going on new trials, with plans to double over the next few years to be one of largest clinical trials units in the world.

It is a partner in the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and home to the North West Cancer Information Service, the cancer registry for the whole of the North West region, and the Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centremarker.

The Christie became a NHS Foundation Trust on 1 April 2007. It has a total annual turnover of around £143 million. 8% of its income is from private patients. Around 2000 staff and over 300 volunteers work at the Christie.


  1. British Medical Association (ed.) (1929) The Book of Manchester and Salford: for the 97th annual meeting. Manchester: George Falkner & Sons

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