ON January 3, 1994, treatment was handed out to the first patient at a new hospital in Colchester.

Matron Juliet Driver remembers being part of the theatre team at the new Mile End Road hospital.

She said: “The first patient was admitted on January 3 1994.

“It was a memorable day for a lot of staff who still, to this day, work within the hospital.

“It was an exciting and challenging time, with the new equipment that had been purchased and how technology had evolved.”

But even back then, Oaks Hospital had been part of Colchester’s medical scene for 45 years.

Traditionally a private hospital, with the advent of the Choose and Book system and successive reforms, it has increasingly treated NHS patients. It began as a nursing home in Lexden Road in 1949 and moved to Oaks Drive in 1969.


                  One of the hospital's theatres when it opened

It was then it became the Oaks Hospital, under the control of Colchester Oaks Hospital. Then came a fresh takeover by Community Hospitals before Swedish company Capio took control and oversaw the move to Mile End.

Mrs Driver said the biggest change they faced was coping with the increase from one operating theatre to three, and the additional staff needed for the growth.

Since then, she has seen a number of changes at the hospital.

In 2007, it was taken over by Ramsay Health Care UK.


                     One of the hospital's current theatres

Ms Driver said: “Since Ramsay took over, there has been a lot of investment, enabling growth within the hospital.

“I still think the most important part of any organisation is the people you work with and if I hadn’t had the support from my teams, then my career would not have been so successful.

“Patients remain the key focus of our business and we continue to focus on delivering the best patient care possible.”

To mark the 20th anniversary, the team hosted a tea party on Monday.

Colchester’smayor and mayoress, Colin and Laura Sykes, attended the event, as did Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell.

Mrs Driver, who began her career at the hospital as a theatre nurse, said: “I feel proud to have worked for the Oaks for more than 20 years.

“Everyone is really committed here. We all have the same goal. There really is team spirit.

“We are looking forward to a positive future.”