Green light for new £7.5m children’s unit

A NEW £7.5million children s unit is to be built at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon. The two-storey unit, which will replace Holly Ward, the current children s ward is expected to be opened in April next year. Medics say that Holly Ward, created 20

A NEW £7.5million children's unit is to be built at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon.

The two-storey unit, which will replace Holly Ward, the current children's ward is expected to be opened in April next year.

Medics say that Holly Ward, created 20 years ago when the hospital opened, is a children's ward created out of a standard adult hospital ward and is now squeezed for space.

Greater numbers of children are now seen at the hospital, which takes referrals from other centres, including Addenbrooke's in Cambridge.

The new unit will be designed so that outpatients will be seen downstairs and inpatients can be treated upstairs. There will be a separate, dedicated day-care area.

This will mean that children who arrive for day appointments will not be mixed with youngsters who are seriously ill and there will be less of a risk of cross infection. Currently, the hospital sees some 6,500 young outpatients a year.

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It has 3,000 emergency and 1,000 booked surgical and day case admissions.

There is also a plan for a "one-stop-shop" approach to children's medicine which means that they can see different specialists on the same day during the same appointment, instead of having to visit hospital several times.

This will reduce the numbers of hospital appointments for each child.

Dr Jill Challener, medical director of Huntingdonshire Primary Care Trust, which is overseeing the project, said: "The children's ward has outgrown its space. We currently hold 65 clinics a month in five offices, which are consultant's rooms.

"The new unit will be much more flexible. It will have three or four-bed bays with two single rooms attached to each bay. This means that we can use the space better for treating different ages and sexes."

The building, to be constructed by Laing O'Rourke, will be cleanly constructed and light, like the new treatment centre at the hospital, opened by Princess Anne in November.

A stained glass lift shaft at the front of the building has been designed to flood the interior with coloured light.

The scheme has been granted outline planning permission but still needs approval of its business case by the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority.

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