Hospitals, or nosocomions (PROSE: Against Nature) were places of work in which employees (including doctors, nurses and administrative staff) sought to heal temporary residents, damaged organic life called "patients". (TV: The Empty Child)
These institutions varied greatly in character. Some were small and make-shift — as on battlefields during war time, like Chula warships (TV: The Doctor Dances) or medical ships in general to pick up injured passerbys, like the Tsuranga. (TV: The Tsuranga Conundrum) Others were imposing, solid buildings with long histories of general care (TV: Doctor Who, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, Smith and Jones, The Eleventh Hour, Let's Kill Hitler, The Girl Who Waited, The Power of Three, To the Last Man, Dead Man Walking) or smaller, more select rooms for surgery within larger complexes. (TV: The Long Game, Cold Blood) Others gave themselves over to medical research, in which those admitted were more "subject" than "patient" (TV: World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls) though still healed some patients within. (TV: New Earth)
Many events in the Doctor's life took place in hospitals. It was not uncommon for their own regeneration, injury to a companion, or the presence of an alien menace to land the Doctor in a hospital. Similarly, the Torchwood Three team — and, to a lesser extent, Sarah Jane Smith and Mr Smith — monitored the pattern of hospital admissions for any sign of threat to Earth.
- 1 The Doctor
- 2 Companions
- 3 As main settings for adventures
- 4 As place of interest to investigations
- 5 Other known hospitals
- 6 Fictional
- 7 Behind the scenes
As regenerative patient
While the Doctor's TARDIS was the more usual location for regeneration, he sometimes found himself in a human hospital during or immediately after the event. His third incarnation was the first to recover in hospital. Weakened from Time Lord-enforced change, the Doctor was taken from just outside his TARDIS to the Ashbridge Cottage Hospital in Essex. There, under the care of Dr Henderson, his binary vascular system and unusual brain activity were first documented by humans. (TV: Spearhead from Space) Later, when he had just regenerated into his fourth self, he spent time in the field hospital at UNIT HQ near London. There, Dr Harry Sullivan again noted the presence of two hearts and ineffectually tried to get the Doctor to rest in bed. (TV: Robot)
However, the regeneration in which a hospital played the most significant role was that resulting in the Doctor's eighth life. It is likely, in fact, that the surgical staff of Walker General Hospital in San Francisco, led by Dr Grace Holloway, actually killed the Seventh Doctor on the operating table. Dismissing X-rays which clearly showed the presence of two hearts, and misreading the Doctor's rapid pulse for symptoms of cardiac arrest, emergency room attendant, Dr Salinger, called for emergency cardiac surgery. Dr Holloway then ordered anaesthesia and an invasive procedure which, though an undoubtedly sound procedure for a human patient, proved fatal for that incarnation of the Doctor. His body was taken to the hospital's morgue, where he regenerated. Suffering post-regenerative trauma, the new Doctor imprinted on Dr Holloway, the last person he saw as his former self, and the pair subsequently thwarted the plans of the Master to take over the Doctor's remaining lives. (TV: Doctor Who)
As non-regenerative patient
On occasion, the Doctor sought medical care outside the scope of a regenerative crisis. Consequent to an explosion in a quarry, the Fourth Doctor came under the care of an intern at an English hospital for an injury to his forearm. After shrugging off his own injuries, he used Dr Carter's pathology laboratory to determine that Sarah Jane's more serious injuries were due to a threat from a silicon-based entity known as Eldrad. (TV: The Hand of Fear) Later, in the year 5000, the Fourth Doctor sought the specialised help of Professor Frederick Marius at the Bi-Al Foundation to rid himself of infection by the Swarm. The innovative procedure required clones of the Fourth Doctor and of Leela to shrink to microscopic size and be injected into the Doctor's body, in order to precisely target the threat to his blood stream. (TV: The Invisible Enemy)
The Tenth Doctor also once faked abdominal pain so he could be admitted to Royal Hope Hospital to better investigate the plasma coils he noticed on the hospital grounds. There, he was examined by medical student Martha Jones. She assisted in the Judoon widening their scan so they could capture and execute the disguised Plasmavore Florence Finnegan for murder, and also helped foil Finnegan's plan to kill half the Earth with an overloading MRI machine. (TV: Smith and Jones)
Opinions about hospitals
The Doctor sometimes expressed strong views about hospitals. The Seventh Doctor claimed to have always disliked hospitals. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Genesys) In particular, the Eighth Doctor noted an aversion to hospitals, arising from his regeneration in Walker General Hospital in San Francisco. (PROSE: Legacy of the Daleks, Kursaal) The Tenth Doctor confirmed this displeasure with hospitals, saying that they "[gave] [him] the creeps". However, he had an affinity for their little gift shops. (TV: New Earth, Smith and Jones) The Fifth Doctor claimed that the reason most people felt uncomfortable in hospitals was that metacognitive imprinting on the brickwork from all the years of negative emotion and mental suffering caused a sort of psychic stain. (AUDIO: Singularity)
Onboard the TARDIS
The Doctor's TARDIS had a medical bay of its own that was at least sufficient to heal minor injuries. (TV: Cold Blood) It, or another medical treatment area onboard, may have been as big as an entire hospital ward. (PROSE: Sanctuary) On at least one occasion, the Third Doctor recuperated on what was a kind of medical table. (TV: Planet of the Daleks) Clearly, too, the Zero Room had restorative powers and helped heal the newly-regenerated Fifth Doctor's synapses. (TV: Castrovalva)
As part of staff
A few of the Doctor's companions were employed by hospitals prior to their involvement with the Doctor. Dr Harry Sullivan was a UNIT doctor who aided the Fourth Doctor, and joined him on his travels. (TV: Robot) Dr Grace Holloway was a cardiologist at Walker General Hospital who assisted the Eighth Doctor to defeat the Master and save the Earth. (TV: Doctor Who) Hex was an emergency room nurse at St Gart's Hospital in London. (AUDIO: The Gathering) Martha Jones was a student doctor at Royal Hope Hospital in London prior to meeting the Tenth Doctor. (TV: Smith and Jones) Rory Williams worked as a nurse in Royal Leadworth Hospital, (TV: The Eleventh Hour) and may have been working towards becoming, or at least hoping to become, a doctor there. (TV: Amy's Choice)
Temporary members of staff
On occasion the Doctor's companions have either temporarily lent their skills to a hospital, or simply pretended to be a member of staff. For instance, Ace pretended to be a part of the human resources department of St Gart's when investigating a Cyber threat there. (AUDIO: The Gathering) Later, she, Hex and the Seventh Doctor worked alongside Florence Nightingale in a field hospital during the Crimean War. (AUDIO: The Angel of Scutari)
When admitted as genuine patient or subject
The Eighth Doctor had to admit both Izzy Sinclair and Destrii to specialised medical facilities. After swapping bodies with Destrii, (COMIC: Ophidius) Izzy was taken to the Argus, a marine research vessel, to seek out the medical advice of marine biologist, Dr Alison Lavelle. (COMIC: Children of the Revolution) Later, after the two companions had returned to their rightful bodies, the Doctor took an injured Destrii to Hippocrates Base, a space-based facility that cared for a wide variety of species. (COMIC: Sins of the Fathers)
Adam Mitchell once underwent a surgical procedure to implant a microchip into his head on Floor 016 of Satellite 5. Whilst there, he learned that the satellite had emergency facilities on other floors. (TV: The Long Game)
According to a soldier the Ninth Doctor met in 1914, Jack Harkness spent time in a hospital after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head during combat in World War I. The Doctor failed to explore exactly why Jack would have faked the need for a hospital. (COMIC: The Forgotten)
Jackie Tyler ended up in hospital when she was mugged by an assailant who was attempting to steal her winning ticket for a "holiday" which would have turned her into a combatant in an alien war. Her stint in hospital ironically saved her life, as the mugger ended up being killed in the war in which she would have otherwise unwittingly participated. (PROSE: Winner Takes All)
Treated against their will
Amy Pond, Mo Northover and Elliot Northover underwent medical examination at the hands of a Homo Reptilian doctor. The elder Northover was dissected, as Amy nearly was, but in such a way as to do him no long-term harm. (TV: The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood)
As main settings for adventures
Occasionally a hospital was a main location for an adventure.
Sometimes the adventures were small and personal, having directly to do with a patient there. On Christmas Eve 2006, an older version of the Tenth Doctor returned to London on the day his newly-regenerated self was battling the Sycorax above the city. This time, however, he visited a young patient at St. Nicholas's Hospital, Daniel Francis Thompson, and helped him awaken from his coma. (PROSE: Deep and Dreamless Sleep)
On other occasions, the safety of an entire planet depended upon what happened at the medical facility. This was plainly exemplified by the Tenth Doctor's rescue of new humans from medical slavery by the Catkind in the New New York Hospital on New Earth. (TV: New Earth) Likewise, the Ninth Doctor's involvement with the Albion Hospital in 1941 would prove critical to the original planet Earth. There, he met Dr Constantine, who helped him uncover the global threat posed by the nanogenes from the Chula ambulance. (TV: The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances)
As place of interest to investigations
In the course of their investigations into what frequently turned out to be alien phenomena, the Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and Torchwood often had to rely on clues at hospitals or other treatment facilities.
At various times, the Doctor used hospitals as a starting point for investigating larger mysteries. Wenley Hospital was one such location, at which his third incarnation questioned Doris Squire and confirmed that attacks in Wenley Moor were the result of a Silurian incursion. (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians)
Hospitals were a particularly rich vein of clues in tracking down unusual Rift activity and alien incursions.
Jack Harkness met Owen Harper in a London hospital after an alien had infiltrated Owen's fiancée's body. When she died, Jack Harkness recruited Owen to work at Torchwood Three in an operating theatre there. (TV: Fragments)
Immediately prior to joining Torchwood Three, Gwen Cooper once chased Jack through a hospital that was being terrorised by a Weevil. In a part of the hospital that had been cleared of all personnel, she watched as Jack rendered the Weevil helpless with a mysterious spray. Following Jack out of the hospital, she watched as an unmarked SUV whisked him away. (TV: Everything Changes)
Owen and Toshiko Sato once investigated a quarantined hospital in Cardiff which had mysteriously become overwhelmed by bubonic plague, introduced by an alpha patient who had come through the Cardiff Space-Time Rift from the 14th century. (TV: End of Days)
On another occasion, Owen and Jack investigated a rise in the number of patients in Cardiff hospitals suffering from Weevil injuries. Upon visiting one local hospital, they encountered Will Harris, a patient who nearly had his heart ripped out by a Weevil. This information helped lead the Torchwood team to the Weevil Fight Club. (TV: Combat)
While on temporary assignment to Torchwood, Dr Martha Jones was admitted as a subject to the Pharm, a medical research laboratory. There, she helped piece together the dark secret behind the facility's miraculous Reset drug. Later, after the Torchwood team descended upon the facility, Owen was killed there by Dr Aaron Copley. (TV: Reset)
After the death of Owen and Toshiko, Jack and Ianto followed a corpse to a local Cardiff hospital with the hopes of removing an alien parasite within. They succeeded, but attracted the attention of the attending physician, Dr Rupesh Patanjali. For a brief time, he was considered by the team as a replacement for Owen, but when Jack returned to the hospital, Patanjali shot him on the orders of Agent Johnson. Meanwhile, Gwen went to the English Digby York Hospital in East Grinstead, in order to investigate why one of its residents, Clement McDonald, had chanted "we are coming" like the children of Earth had been. (TV: Children of Earth: Day One)
Sarah Jane Smith
While Sarah Jane was admitted to at least one hospital because of her travels with the Doctor, (TV: The Hand of Fear) she sometimes encountered them simply as the result of her freelance work as a journalist. For instance, she once appeared to be conducting a fairly routine journalistic investigation of MRSA infections at a British hospital. This kept her away from most of the events surrounding Clyde Langer's dad's misappropriation of the Berserker pendant. (TV: The Mark of the Berserker)
However, sometimes these investigations led to her more usual practice of combating alien incursions. On one such occasion, questions asked at the Lavender Lawns rest home led her to understand that its manager, Mrs Gribbins, was actually in league with the Gorgons. (TV: Eye of the Gorgon)
Sarah Jane was, however, somewhat cautious of hospitals when it came to the treatment of her son, Luke Smith. She once declined to take him to a hospital, despite his serious malady, because she feared that routine medical procedures might reveal his unusual physiology. This, she felt, could potentially lead to his being taken from her by British authorities. (TV: The Gift)
Other known hospitals
The First Doctor once visited the hospital where Edgar Allan Poe died. (PROSE: The True and Indisputable Facts in the Matter of the Ram's Skull)
Many British hospitals were used by the vampires of the Forge as places to donate blood. This arguably immoral behaviour placated the authorities, and allowed them to turn a blind eye to the vampires' activities. (AUDIO: Project: Twilight)
Adipose 3 was a planet entirely given over to the pre- and post-natal care of Adipose. Its removal to the Medusa Cascade by Davros forced Miss Foster to attempt to use Earth as a nursery world. (TV: Partners in Crime, The Stolen Earth)
The Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones once visited a hospital at Snowglobe 6, which was filled to capacity with infected Gappa. (PROSE: Snowglobe 7) At another point in this incarnation, the Doctor helped Mae Harrison, a woman whose eyes had been stolen, make a full recovery at a London hospital. (PROSE: The Pictures of Emptiness)
Behind the scenes
The first hospital
Tracking down the first hospital in Doctor Who history is a little tricky. Verity Lambert had never sullied Lime Grove Studios with anything so mundane as a hospital. And though John Wiles had explored the nature of illness on The Ark, he'd created a society that was beyond sickness and therefore didn't think to build a hospital.
It was really Innes Lloyd who started to make hospitals and medical facilities commonplace in Doctor Who. The first use of the word is likely by Dodo in The Savages part two, where she wonders whether the Elders' laboratory is a hospital. It's not, of course, and Dodo is quick to realise that it's got the wrong vibe for a place of healing.
Dodo is also involved with the next mention of hospitals, which is in The War Machines, where Polly asks the First Doctor whether they should call round to the hospitals to check after the missing Dodo. But we still don't see a hospital.
In The Underwater Menace, there's certainly a hospital-like place where Polly is threatened with a procedure to turn her into a fish person. It was actually the scene of one of the first letters of audience complaint over a too-frightening cliffhanger. It's certainly the first appearance of an operating theatre. But it's never called a hospital in the script, and there doesn't seem to be much of a facility beyond the operating room.
Equally, the very next story, The Moonbase has Jamie McCrimmon sick for a spell, and he's in some sort of medical facility on the Moonbase. But is it a hospital? Again, not according to the script, which consistently calls it the "medical unit".
And so we go just one more story to The Macra Terror where we, quite undoubtedly, get our first hospital. It's not a very nice place, of course. It's all about psychiatric correction. But everyone in the script calls it a hospital, so it's a hospital. It's mostly referred to as an offscreen place that people desperately want to avoid, but there, in episode two, comes a very brief scene of Medok strapped down to a bed being given some hardcore brainwashing. And that's the first time in Doctor Who history that the interior of something called a "hospital" is actually seen.
After seasons 3 and 4 had broken the ice, medical settings became quite commonplace. Three incarnations of the Doctor completed their regenerations in hospitals. Four televised companions had medical degrees. Several non-televised companions were nurses. Any number of stories relied on medical twists and turns. And the Second Doctor's Moonbase claim that he was in fact a physician seemed ever more likely to be the truth, despite the way that subsequent incarnations tried to conceal this credential.
Real life hospitals have proven popular filming locations.
- Ford's Hospital and Lord Leycester Hospital (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
- St Anne's Hospital (TV: The Invasion of Time)
- Cardiff Royal Infirmary (TV: Aliens of London, The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances)
- Milford Chest Hospital (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians)
- St. Crispin's Hospital (TV: The Talons of Weng-Chiang)
- The District Miners Hospital in Caerphilly, Wales. (TV: Blink, Reset, From Out of the Rain)
- Glanrhyd Hospital in Bridgend, Wales. (TV: To the Last Man)
- Singleton Hospital, Sketty, Swansea, Wales. (TV: Smith and Jones)
- St. Cadoc's Hospital, Caerleon, Gwent, Wales. (TV: Sleeper, Children of Earth: Day One; exteriors for Royal Leadworth Hospital in TV: The Eleventh Hour)
- University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. (TV: Rose, World War Three, Children of Earth: Day One)
- British Columbia Children's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada. (TV: Doctor Who)
- Royal Hamadryad Hospital, Cardiff, Wales. (TV: Rise of the Cybermen)
- Lord Leycester Hospital, Warwick, England. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)
- Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Ynysmaerdy, Llantrissant, Wales. (TV: Dead Man Walking)
- Whitechurch Hospital, Whitechurch, Cardiff. (TV: From Out of the Rain)
- Llandough Hospital, Llandough, Wales. (TV: The Mark of the Berserker)
- Arbertillery Hospital, Arbertillery, Wales; interiors of the Royal Leadworth Hospital. (TV: The Eleventh Hour)