There was magic in the air when the new children’s ward at St Richard’s Hospital was officially opened.
Children from Central Junior School were invited along for a series of teddy bear clinics while Happy Snappy the clown provided plenty of tricks during the morning.
Work on transforming the unit started last March and it now boasts a wide range of facilities for children of all ages.
The new unit has been reorganised to make it more user-friendly and planners also sought the views of children to see what they wanted.
The Countess of March and Kinrara officially declared the unit open, and cut the ribbon for a new picture which will hang in the unit.
Lee Nash, from Thorney Island, whose son Toby, five, has been treated at St Richard’s for the heart condition hypo plastic left heart since he was born, said: “Toby was treated here before the refurbishment and has been here since then and it is really, really good.
“The best thing, which can’t be changed, is the staff, who have been fantastic. The playroom for the kids and the child assessment unit is brilliant, it is like a home from home for us because we have been here so much.”
Toby, who has had to undergo three operations before the age of five, will have to come back when he is a teenager to receive a heart transplant.
Chairman of the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, Hywel Evans said: “There are an awful lot of people here doing an awful lot of good to look after our kids. All in all this unit is a very positive move forward in terms of patient care, patient dignity and patient safety.”
Consultant paediatrician and chief of service for women’s and children’s services, Dr Tim Taylor said staff were delighted.
“This marvellous new facility enables us to provide improved inpatient care for babies, children and teenagers as well as looking after the needs of parents too.”
Director children’s care Denise Matthems said: “The biggest thing for us is the children’s assessment unit where children go so we can work out whether they need further treatment at home, or whether they need to be admitted to the unit – it is the front door of the unit and a decision-making area.
“Before you would have to go through the unit to get to the assessment area, we were in the middle, which wasn’t ideal, but now we are at the start of the care pathway.
“We really wanted to find out the needs of the population so we had lots of comments from children. We wanted to see how they felt it should look. It’s been great getting their input. The children wanted it to be fun.”
During the morning children completed a series of tasks, while medical student Jason James carried out the teddy bear check-ups.
Anna Hains said: “We did lots of activities like looking at healthy meals and working out where our body parts are. It has been really, really fun.”