The first thing that strikes you when you walk into the Brunel building – is that is doesn’t seem like a hospital – but more like an airport / hotel. Even though going into hospital for most isn't much of a holiday.
Greeting you by the main entrance is the “Patient Check In” area. This is where people will be able to let hospital staff know they have arrived – it will also direct patients where to go next.
The airport theme continues. Forget a labyrinth of corridors like older hospitals, at the centre of this new building are three glass atriums with “gate numbers” for the different clinical areas.
At the front entrance, the height of the atrium is the same as the nave of Westminster Abbey, 31m (101 ft) tall. At the back, where the only A&E Department in the region is situated, it's as high as Bristol Cathedral's nave at 16m (52ft).
North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, is proud of the new building:
– North Bristol NHS Trust
We want Southmead to be recognised as one of the leading hospitals in Europe in terms of equipment, and patient privacy and dignity.
Long gone are the cramp ward conditions of hospitals of the past. In the new building there will be 802 beds, with 75% single rooms.
Leading the way are the hospital’s software-based integrated operating theatres, where surgeons will be able to call up data and images at the touch of a screen. No other trust in the country has yet benefited from this technology.
Robotic vehicles will be working behind the scenes. They'll be used to transport waste and linen around the hospital.
The first patients from the current Southmead wards are expected to move into the new building on May 12. A&E services are to move over from Frenchay on May 19. Hospital managers are trying to get the message out there.
The entire building is anticipated to be fully opened by May 28.