Edinburgh's new Sick Kids hospital seems more like a fairy tale than a medical facility – Angus Robertson
If the reaction of my 21-month-old daughter is anything to go by, the new Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital is a hit.
Not only did baby Saoirse get the first-class care and attention you’d expect from the NHS, but last week she experienced the new hospital designed with kids in mind, looking and feeling more like a children’s fairy tale than a medical facility.
Going to hospital can be stressful, especially for parents who are understandably worried about their child. In Saoirse’s case, it was a routine and planned appointment that came a couple of weeks before the official opening of the new £150 million hospital at Little France, next to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Welcomed at the door by friendly and helpful staff, Saoirse was led into a colourful atrium with seating and play areas, fun images and installations, TV screens and immersive sound.
It’s a different world from the old Sick Kids by the Meadows, built 160 years ago as Scotland’s first dedicated children’s hospital. Generations of children from across Edinburgh, myself included, have received excellent care there, but the time has come for the staff and patients to have a purpose-built hospital fit for the 21st century.
When it fully opens on March 23, the new hospital will offer an emergency department for kids, nearly 250 beds, ten wards and theatres, indoor and outdoor play areas with specialist care for both physical and mental treatment.
Some outpatient services and mental inpatient facilities began to operate at the new Sick Kids earlier this year and follows the move of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences last July.
The comprehensive opening of the world-class hospital has been delayed since 2019 after the discovery that ventilation systems for the critical care departments were not up to the high standards that are required. An independent inquiry has been commissioned to review the issues that led to the delay, but should not detract from what is a fantastic success story.
Edinburgh and the Lothians now have a world-class children’s hospital which is worthy of its dedicated NHS staff and the kids that will receive treatment. No doubt there has been an enormous effort gone into preparing for the move from the Meadows to Little France, as there has been to finish off the new hospital.
The chief executive of NHS Lothian, Calum Campbell, was quite right when he said: “The designed space is complemented by the inclusion of the latest clinical thinking and technology, enabling our teams to provide the best treatment and care for our patients, not just now, but for years to come.”
Nobody wants their children to have to go to hospital, but there are a million small and more serious reasons why kids need medical assistance. To know that in Edinburgh we now have a state-of-the-art modern children’s hospital is really good news.
A huge word of thanks to everyone who has made the new Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Children and Young People possible, from the planners, designers and builders, NHS staff, the Scottish government all the way up to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman. I hope I never have to go to the new Edinburgh Sick Kids for a serious reason, but I know if I do it will provide the best healthcare in the best setting.