THE new Sick Kids hospital will benefit from a £2 million cash boost thanks to a historic trust fund that pre-dates the welfare state and the NHS by at least 200 years.
This will be the largest grant from the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, an endowment set up in the 18th century at a time when hospitals for the poor relied on wealthy philanthropists.
The grant will go towards cosmetic improvements to the £150m development at Little France, described as “extras” that would not otherwise be part of the core work planned for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Department of Clinical Neurosciences.
It will include play areas, artwork, outdoor landscaping and interior design and quiet rooms – enhancements which are deemed important but not essential to its day-to-day running.
Brian Houston, chairman of trustees at the foundation, said: “It will provide environmental enhancements from play facilities to art on the walls to providing entertainment for the children.
“While a direct enhancement might come from an ultrasound scanner, less tangible benefits for vulnerable patients come simply from improving the hospital environment.
“Coming to hospital can be a stressful and traumatic experience for patients of all ages, and their carers too. Specific projects, such as developing sky ceilings and personalisation of bedside technology will make a huge difference and would not happen without our grant.”
He added that the £2m figure had been agreed upon in part by looking at comparable projects at home and abroad.
The trust, which has about £80m in its coffers, aims to improve health in Edinburgh and the Lothians by providing grants that are not normally funded through the health service.
Several hundred Specific Funds are held by the Foundation, where donations and legacies are made, often by grateful patients and their families, to support specific wards, departments and areas of research across NHS Lothian.
Foundation director Jane Ferguson said: “This is a hugely exciting project and the commitment from the Edinburgh and Lothian Health Foundation trustees will ensure that the new facility provides an environment which is restful and aids healing.
“We will now begin detailed discussions with designers and artists and are already looking forward to seeing the designs take shape in the coming months.”
Brian Currie, project director, of NHS Lothian said: “The fact that this is their largest ever single contribution shows just how important this project is to the people of Lothian and beyond. This funding will be used to bring added value to the new facility especially within the Department of Clinical Neurosciences.”
A decision on the plans is expected to be received later this summer, with work on the new hospital due to start before the end of the year.