YEOVIL District Hospital has celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The main hospital building was opened by the Duchess of Kent on October 15, 1973.

The tallest building in Yeovil, it was designed to make an architectural impact, as well as providing the very latest NHS care.

The extension to the Accident and Emergency Department is one of the first additions to the hospital, which was officially opened by HRH the Duke of Gloucester, in May 2002.

The first £1million Flying Colours Appeal, launched in May 2004,  was sponsored by Screwfix Direct and generously supported by the Western Gazette enabled the hospital to transform the patient environment.

In 2006 the hospital became a Foundation Trust changing its name from East Somerset NHS Trust to Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which was one of the greatest organisational changes in the history of the hospital.

This change was announced on June 1, 2006 following a lengthy application process. The hospital had to demonstrate the highest standards of clinical and financial performance.

NHS Foundation Trusts have more freedom from central controls (e.g. greater financial independence) and they give local people more chance than ever before to have a say in how services are run, through membership and an elected board of governors.

2006 also saw the opening of a prestigious new learning facility to train the healthcare professionals of the future.

The academy was opened in May 2006 by HRH the Duke of Kent. It included state-of-the-art “telemedicine” equipment able to link medical experts around the globe. This suite was opened by award-winning actor James Purefoy – who once worked at the hospital as a porter.

Growing demands on services led to an £8 million expansion in Critical Care facilities for the most seriously ill patients. This was completed in February 2007.

Today the hospital serves a population of over 200,000 people in Somerset and Dorset.

Each year more than 37,000 patients are treated as inpatients or day cases; more than 169,000 attend outpatient appointments; around 47,000 are treated in Accident and Emergency, and about 1,600 babies are born in the Maternity Unit.

In 1973 the hospital saw 14,380 A&E attendances and in 2012/13 the hospital saw 47,649 people coming into A&E an increase of 231%.

The average length of stay for women having a baby in 1973 was 11 days. In 2013 the average length of stay for a woman having a baby in 2013 is two days.

Paul Mears, Chief Executive said: “The hospital has seen many changes in the last 40 years and is sure to see many more in the next 40 years with rapid advances in medicine and technology.

"Our job is to ensure the needs of the local people are met with the services we provide at the hospital. Our challenge is to provide these services in a sustainable manner with the support of a great workforce and our local community.”