Work at the docks could be very dangerous, and many dockers were injured while handling heavy goods. Despite the frequent accidents, the dock companies provided no medical facilities, and anyone injured at work had to be taken a considerable distance to the London Hospital in Mile End.
The Quaker banker and philanthropist Samuel Gurney led a campaign for a casualty unit near the docks. The Poplar Hospital for Accidents opened in 1858. It stood on the East India Road, just across the road from the imposing entrance gates to the East India Docks. It was later expanded and developed into a general hospital, but was finally closed and demolished in 1982.