Patients and visitors given sneak peek around Edinburgh’s new £150m “Sick Kids” hospital

THE waiting area is referred to as the Pod, the interview rooms are themed to match domestic settings and there is artwork throughout the building.

Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 8:42 am
The brand new facility is due to open in July.

Patients and visitors were given a “sneak peek” at Edinburgh’s new £150 million Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, which is due to open next to the Royal Infirmary at Little France next month.

As well as all the high-tech medical equipment, four MRI scanners, 13 wards, ten theatres and new children’s emergency department next door to the Infirmary’s A&E, the replacement for the “Sick Kids” also boasts what has been the largest capital commissioning programme for art in any new hospital in the UK.

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IN PICTURES: First look around Edinburgh's new £150 million 'Sick Kids' hospital

Over £5m of charity funding has been spent on 20 separate art and design projects, 
involving 30 different artists, to make the hospital a better environment for patients and families.

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The brand new facility will be home to services from the current Sick Kids Hospital in Sciennes Road, the Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) at the Western General and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) based at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

The emergency department will open for its first patients from 8am on Tuesday, July 9.

Roslyn Neely, chief executive of Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity – which contributed £3.1m for the art projects, said: Our charity exists to transform the experiences of children and young people in hospital so they can be a child first and a patient second.

“We are proud to have funded the art and therapeutic design programme throughout the children’s hospital.

“From the excitement of the Pod waiting area and ward playrooms; to the calming effect of the family interview spaces, the enhancements recognise the importance of environment in helping to reduce anxiety, provide distraction and in creating a sense of welcome.

“A trip to hospital can be daunting but we hope the innovative use of art and design will help to reduce that anxiety for all visitors to this special place.”

The Pod, which is the hospital’s main waiting area, is full of integrated technology to create a fun and welcoming escape from clinical areas. Tablets will allow waiting youngsters to send dragons flying around the room while spyholes let them discover characters inside the model buildings around the room.

Daniel Warren, of Warren Design, the company behind the Pod, said: “We asked patients in the waiting rooms what they thought a waiting space should be like.”

Interview rooms, which often need to be a sensitive environment, have been designed on the theme of more domestic spaces, such as games room, reading room and solarium.

The “Spine Wall”, which runs 188 metres through the full length of the hospital as the “backbone” of the building, is made of concrete models of patients and staff, but using magnified prints of skin textures.

Scattered around the hospital are also art pieces in wall-mounted display cases which use archived and historical materials alongside newly commissioned works to reflect the identity, history and stories of the three institutions being brought together in the new hospital. These are themed to be appropriate for the floor they are on.

And an artist residency programme has seen five artists already create new works linked to the hospital. Some of these will be on display.

More art projects are expected in the future, potentially including interactive workshops and live theatre.

Susan Grant, arts manager for Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, which put £2m into funding the art projects, said: “We are delighted to have co-funded and commissioned these really ambitious art and design projects for the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People & Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

“Part of our diverse programme of arts activities designed to enhance patient experiences across NHS Lothian, we hope this programme of commissions and artist residencies – full of delights and distractions to discover and explore – engages patients, staff and visitors alike and makes their time at the hospital more comfortable.”

Tim Davison, chief executive of NHS Lothian, said: “These projects are very exciting and are about enhancing patient and family experiences.

“We have stained glass windows, musical installations, artwork that brings the building to life and supports healing and recovery.

“The artists and designers have worked closely with patients and their families as well as staff in the development of their design proposals. They have continued to involve them in the process which has been an important factor in the overall art and therapeutic design programme.

“A huge thank you goes to our supporters – without the generosity and continued support from both the Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation and Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity a programme of this magnitude would not have been possible.”