What we do

The Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit is responsible for the acute and lifelong care of all adult patients in Scotland with traumatic and non-progressive spinal cord injury.

History and background

The  Unit was developed to provide specialised care for patients with spinal cord injury from throughout Scotland. It replaced services  at Edenhall Hospital, Musselburgh and Philipshill Hospital, East Kilbride.

The modern care of spinal patients requires ready access to diagnostic and investigative techniques such as CT scan, MRI scan (including a research Siemens 7T MRI scanner) and neurophysiological assessments, together with on site availability of specialists in neurosurgery and neuroanaesthesia, orthopaedic surgery, general surgery and urological surgery.  The new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital provides all essential services on campus and the National Spinal Injuries Unit is linked by corridor to the Institute of Neurological Sciences and the main hospital.

Approval was granted by the Secretary of State for Scotland in 1988 and construction began two years later on 17 September 1990. The first patients were admitted on 29th September 1992 and the Unit was formally opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 14th December 1992.


The Unit has forty-eight beds in three areas: Edenhall Ward (twelve beds) provides high dependency facilities, Philipshill Ward (thirty beds) provides progressive care and the Respiratory Care Unit (six beds) for patients with ventilatory problems. The Unit offers the following services:

  • The admission of adults with spinal lesions causing paraplegia or tetraplegia whether caused by trauma or non-progressive spinal disease.
  • Intensive inter-disciplinary comprehensive care and rehabilitation programmes to facilitate the patients’ return to their own community.
  • Lifetime care for out-patients
  • Out-patient clinics including general review, urology, fertility, orthopaedics, neurosurgery, skin, spasms and implantable antispasm pumps.
  • An open door policy to allow patients with specific problems to seek advice or treatment.

To achieve these aims the Unit encourages the earliest appropriate admission of patients following a spinal injury. The patients will normally be referred from their local hospital and may be transferred by road or air.  A helicopter landing pad is on the hospital, which is also close to Glasgow Airport allowing transfer of patients by fixed wing aircraft. Facilities include:

  • Out-patient department
  • Therapy area for occupational therapy and physiotherapy treatments
  • ADL (Activities of Daily Living) kitchen
  • Gymnasium/sports hall
  • Therapy pool
  • Step-down unit for re-integration and family visits
  • Integrated research office accomodation of the Scottish Centre for Innovation in Spinal Cord Injury