OXFORD'S first NHS key workers have finally been honoured after an eight-year campaign.

A modest plaque to honour hundreds of doctors and nurses has been put on the site of the city's first hospital.

Now anyone walking past the old Radcliffe Infirmary building on Woodstock Road will know how important it was.

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The tribute is the result of a decade of work by three former NHS workers in Oxford, Xante Cummings, Thelma Sanders and Dr Peggy Frith.

Mrs Cummings, of Abingdon, not only trained at the infirmary and worked there throughout the 1970s – she was also born there in 1954.

She and Mrs Sanders first started trying to raise £20,000 to commission the plaque in 2012, and on May 22 they finally saw the reward for their years of hard work.

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She said: "We've not been able to have an official unveiling, obviously, but we just wanted to let the people of Oxfordshire know it was there.

"I just hope people who see it will now stop and think about the history of that building and all those who worked there.

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"There were an awful lot of firsts in medical advancement there, so I hope people think it's a fitting tribute."

The first proposals to build a hospital for Oxford were made in 1758 at a meeting of the Radcliffe Trustees, who administered the estate of Dr John Radcliffe (1650-1714), who had been physician to Queen Anne.

The trustees agreed to give £4,000 for the new hospital, which was then built on land off Woodstock Road.

The hospital opened in 1770 and was run as a private facility until 1920, when ordinary folk could start paying two pennies a week to have the right to get treatment there.

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The hospital made history twice in 1941 when it gave the first dose of penicillin to a patient in January, and opened the first accident service in Great Britain just six months later.

With the creation of the National Health Service in 1948, the Radcliffe surrendered its independence and became the city's first NHS hospital.

It carried on operating as a hospital until 2007.

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To honour all of this history, Mrs Cummings and her colleagues commissioned a plaque from West Oxfordshire sculptor Alec Preever.

The plaque’s inscription says simply: “To honour the doctors and nurses and all who cared for the sick in the Radcliffe Infirmary 1770-2007”.

However there is also a carved pair of hands on the plaque above the inscription, inspired by Michael Rosen’s Poem These are the Hands, which was written to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS in 2008.

Money was donated by the Radcliffe Trust, the Doris Field Trust, and members of the Radcliffe Guild of nurses.

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Representatives from all the groups will be invited to an official unveiling ceremony at some point in the future.

Mrs Cummings also revealed that her group was hoping to commission a second work by Mr Preever – a stone plinth to stand opposite the plaque bearing the words of Michael Rosen's poem.

Anyone who would be interested in helping to raise funds for that work is asked to email xante1@btinternet.com