WATCH: Kit Bradshaw reports from inside Ashford's new hospital unit for children.
Patients at one of Kent’s biggest hospitals have started using a brand new children’s emergency department.
The facility is jungle-themed with wall murals and cubicle screens designed by a local graffiti artist, while interactive computer games are projected onto the waiting room floor.
There is double the amount of space to treat patients, along with a dedicated room for young people suffering from mental health problems.
It is the latest phase in a £15 million redevelopment of the ED at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, which has already benefited from a new ambulance entrance.
The department’s matron, Cat Miller, said the whole space has been “designed with children in mind” and is “hugely different” from the previous “suboptimal” unit, which she described as “not really fit for purpose”.
East Kent Hospital NHS Trust is spending £30 million improving its urgent and emergency care both in Ashford and at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.
The trust has been at the centre of a long-running scandal over failings in its maternity care, with CQC inspectors understood to have considered closing the birthing unit at the William Harvey earlier this year.
Dr Hitendra Tanwar, Clinical Director of Emergency Services, hopes the opening of the new department will help “restore faith” in services amongst the public.
“This is a state-of-the-art building that you can compare with any modern, new London hospital. We’re really glad that the Kent population can now enjoy the same experience,” Dr Tanwar added.
The new children’s A&E department has six large new treatment areas, separate consultation rooms and a private infant feeding area.
Work on the project began in 2021, with a dedicated isolation room for infectious diseases added to the plans following the pandemic.
A new computer-locking drugs cabinet and patient monitoring displays are among the technical advances in the new unit, which opened to patients on 5 July, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the NHS.
The current unit sees an average of 100 children a day, with that number increasing to 180 during the busy winter months.
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