Marie Curie

Marie Cure is a charitable organisation that provides support and care for people who have terminal illnesses and their families in the UK. Interestingly it is as old as the National Health Service. During the financial year of 2014 to 2015 it provided around 40,000 patients with terminally patients in the nine hospices it has and in their community. It also provided support for the families of these patients. Over 2,700 doctors, nurses and various other professionals work with them to provide the needed care.


It was first founded, as noted earlier, the same year the NHS was established, in 1948. It all began with Marie Curie Hospital in Hampstead. Therefore, the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation was setup. The hospital was originally opened by Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister, and specialised in the field of radiological treatment for women with cancer and other serious diseases. However, it was destroyed during the war in 1944, from a direct hit from an airborne attack.

A small group of members of a committee from there wanted to keep Marie Curie’s name alive within the medical charity field. They oversaw the hospital re building and separated from the NHS. Marie Curie International Memorial was established formally in 1948 and soon became Marie Curie Memorial Foundation.

Funding got off to a flying start with Mrs Alice Macpherson donating her diamond engagement ring for £75 and then an appeal by the foundation that raised £4,000 and the daughter of Marie Curie allowed them the permission to use her name. Working alongside the Queen’s Institute of District Nursing, the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation’s first committee started a national survey with the goal of investigating what cancer patients needed and how best to help them.

That detailed report laid out the direction their work went in the formative years.

Back then, their priorities were:

  • Setting up specialist residential homes for cancer patient care
  • Providing at-home nursing
  • Providing practical help such as medical equipment, furniture and bed linen
  • Providing members of the public information about cancer and about the kind of help that is available for sufferers and those affected

It opened its first Marie Curie home in 1952. The building was an old National Trust location named the Hill of Tarvit in the Scottish town of Cupar in Fife. There were a collection of porcelain, paintings and furniture in the apartments on the ground floor, that the public had access for and the rent was just £1. During the 50’s and 60’s there nine other adapted buildings converted into Mari Curie Homes.

Nursing – In the Beginning

From the very early days of the charity, Marie Curie Memorial Foundation was helping patients who were in need of nursing in their own home. In the beginning it helped with welfare grants that meant people could afford night nurses supplied by other organisations. Following a study carried out in conjunction with Queen’s Institute of District Nursing, it began offering its own day and night nurses in London. To begin with. By the end of the 50s, there were nine areas where home nursing from the charity was available.

Research – In the Beginning

It was always one of the organisation’s main goals to contribute significantly to medical research, in the beginning by ensuring grants were available for funding research into cancer causes and treatments. Therefore, in 1952 they funded the research fellowship they established to investigate into the relationship chemical structure in blood cancer drugs-based treatments and physiological movement.

Homes – 60s to 80s

They continued with their progress of building homes. However, felt the current homes they had at the time, during the 60’s, were not up to scratch and then designed from that point on all new homes would be designed and built from scratch. The first of this kind opened in 1965 in Belfast and then another larger one in Edinburgh in 1966. They also worked at replacing the existing buildings too. Clinical cover in this time was provided by local GPs

At Home Nursing – 60’s to 80’s

They continued to offer their day and night service during the 60s, and by ’74, when the responsibility for community care in Wales and England had been passed onto the NHS, their homes were looking after in excess of 3,664 people throughout 200 different local authorities.

The charity had negotiated a share of the costs of 50:50 with NHS taking over the responsibility of deploying nurses at a localised level. This followed through to Ireland and Scotland too.

Research – 60s to 80s

Marie Curie opened its purpose-built research facility in 1962 in Caterham. Their earliest work there involved the control of growing and profiling of hormone-dependant rumours. A bigger set of labs came in 1965, when they converted a convalescent home situated in Limpsfield Chart, out in Oxted.


The organisation was known as being one of the pioneers of fundraising via direct mail, writing and asking potential donors for support. Their campaigns were backed by celebs such as Henry Cooper, Dame Flora Robson and Wilfred Pickles.

During the 80s, their homes started to be focused more on hospice-style care rather than long-term nursing. This allowed them to look after more people, for less amount of time. Consultants took over the medical side of care with palliative medicine, while allied health professionals provided occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

It continued providing at-home nursing, with that becoming their main service. Around 1990, the charity was looking after around 40% of people in the country who died at home from Cancer.

Their Research focused on the molecular biology of cancer, trying to identify the mechanisms of cells as they are altered by cancer.

It also contributed to the scientific knowledge of other key areas such as internal transport systems of cells, gene-transcription mechanisms and bladder cancer.


Since the turn of the new millennium, the charity has focused more of their research towards finding improved ways of looking after individuals with terminal illnesses and their families. Funding for this has increased dramatically. Their plan for the future is to offer support and care to even more people, try and reach them sooner after they have been diagnosed and help them various ways.