Watch: ITV News Meridian is allowed inside Brighton's new hospital wing before it opens to the public
After almost a decade of planning and construction, the newest hospital building in the NHS is preparing to welcome its first patients.
Costing more than £500 million, the Louisa Martindale Building now dominates the Royal Sussex County Hospital site, and will serve as the main entrance.
Set out over 11 storeys, with three interconnected wings, it has been designed so that almost every ward and private room gets a sea view.
An estimated 100,000 patients will be treated here each year, with the outpatients department, critical care unit, stroke centre and neuroscience services all together under one roof.
The Chief Executive of University Hospitals Sussex, Dr George Findlay, told ITV News Meridian the building was “hugely important” for the trust as it offered “a really modern, purpose-built facility for patients and staff”.
“This is a great building,” Dr Findlay added, “It will allow us to improve care pathways and it will provide care not just for Brighton residents but for people across Sussex.”
Ward patients will be transferred from the 195-year-old Barry Building, thought to be the oldest acute hospital building still in use in England.
Once the new building is fully operational, the original Victorian infirmary will be demolished to make way for a new Cancer Centre for Sussex.
Staff on the new critical care unit say the panoramic views of the city are “incredible” compared to their current “depressing” home in the hospital’s windowless basement.
Senior Staff Nurse, Lauren Noel, added: “Having these huge windows is going to be great for patients. Particularly for neurology patients who can find it quite disorientating anyway, so not having any natural light can be really hard for their recovery. All this natural light is going to be huge.”
Managers hope the new facilities will help them improve patient care. The University Hospitals Sussex NHS Trust was criticised by Care Quality Commission inspectors last month.
More than 14,000 pieces of equipment and tens of thousands of clinical stock items, such as gloves and bottles of hand sanitiser, have been installed in preparation for the phased opening.
Named after a pioneering local doctor and surgeon, Louisa Martindale, plans for the building were first signed off by the government in 2014, with construction starting in 2016.
The building's phased opening will take several weeks and is due to begin with outpatient appointments on Thursday, 8 June.
The project's completion marks the end of the first phase of the hospital’s ‘3Ts Redevelopment’, with a new cancer centre and service yard due to be completed in the months to come.
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