The Italian Hospital was founded in 1884 by a successful businessman, Giovanni Ortelli. Prior to the existence of a national health service, his intention was to support Italians in London who could not afford to pay for their own healthcare. The original Hospital consisted of two houses in Queen’s Square in Bloomsbury that Ortelli donated. These were later demolished and, in 1898, a new building was erected in its place. In 1910, the Hospital was extended as new properties were acquired. A year after the Second World War ended, the Hospital reopened with 48 beds. When, in 1948, the NHS was formed, the Hospital decided to remain as an independent hospital.
However, because it was not part of the NHS, and with the changing requirements of the Italian community, the Hospital suffered financially, which led to its closure in 1990. It was sold to Great Ormond Street Hospital and, after paying off some outstanding debts, the funds were to be kept in trust and transferred to a charity: ‘The Italian Hospital Fund’.
The Italian Hospital Fund, which later changed its name to the Italian Medical Charity, was formed to continue to give medical help to Italians living in the UK, and those of Italian heritage, by the Right Hon. Hugh Rossi MP and several prominent members of the Italian Community.