General Practice in the early 20th century was very different from today. Family doctors practiced private medicine, usually from consulting rooms in their own homes, and assisted by their wives and families.Transport was difficult, especially to outlying areas, and communications were very limited. Doctors were often awoken by a knock on the door, rather than a telephone call.

Two of the most notable doctors of the early twentieth century were Dr. Eustace and Dr. Pearson. Dr. Pearson practiced in Arundel around the time of WW1, was awarded the Military Cross and was also Mayor of Arundel in 1925 and 1938. Pearson Road is named after him. In the thirties, Dr. Jack Warren came to Arundel. He practiced from a number of houses including Sefton house at the top of the High street and Tower House on the London road and was joined by Dr. Terry.Humphrey in 1945 as his assistant. They shared the workload by day and night, providing care both at home, in the surgery and at Arundel hospital.

Arundel has had its own hospital since the early part of the twentieth century. It was situated at the top of King street, on the left hand side. The doctors at that time admitted and looked after patients there, and it was also used for maternity cases. The present Arundel Hospital was opened in 1932, built on land donated by Bernard, Duke of Norfolk and funded by local people and businesses. The old hospital reverted to the estate and was occupied by estate workers.

In 1948, the National Health Service was formed, when GP’s, hospitals and staff were all nationalised. Most patients joined their GP’s lists to get free treatment, private patients were very few, and most GP’s found that their income from the NHS did not compensate them adequately. Dr. Humphrey became a full partner in the practice¬†in the same year.

In the mid fifties, Drs. Warren and Humphrey did something very innovative. They purchased a piece of land at the bottom of Torton Hill Road from the Norfolk Estate and created the very first purpose built surgery in West Sussex. It had two consulting rooms with separate examination rooms, a waiting room, a small reception area and an office for the practice’s first secretary.

1968 was a great year for General Practice. The Royal College of general practitioners was formed, The Department of Health agreed to reimburse GP’s for their staff costs (although they would only pay half for wives and families) and to pay a notional rent for the use of their surgeries. Despite extending the surgery in the 1970’s to accommodate an increased number of doctors, the workload continued to increase, necessitating a further increase to four partners and the requirement for additional space. Planning permission was refused on the Torton Hill Road site and the quest for a new site began. After looking at several sites and two failed planning applications, we called upon help from Detta Bishop, who as Baroness O’Cathain had the ears of the House of Lords and huge experience in dealing with difficult government organisations. She formed the now patient support group Arundel Surgery Community Association (ASCA), with the remit to find a site and support a new surgery development. As if by magic, Arun District Council became¬†much more proactive and suddenly allowed the purchase of part of the Canada Road recreational field, as long as we could find some ‘compensatory land’. The Duke of Norfolk generously agreed to give us a piece of land, and the deal was done. It is also an opportune moment to thank Detta for suggesting and funding the first Arundel website, as well as providing the doctors with the furniture for their rooms.

We spent considerable time planning and designing the layout of the new surgery and finally moved in Summer 2003. Funding for the new surgery was provided through the government backed Private Finance Initiative (PFI). After more than ten years on, there is little, if anything in the design that we would wish to change and the structure and fittings have held out well, despite the hundreds of patients that walk through our doors each day. This is a testament to the quality of the build.