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Evelina Children's Hospital in 2005

The Evelina Children's Hospital, which cost 60 million, is London's first new children's hospital for more than 100 years.

The 140-bed hospital, which is based on the St Thomas's Hospital site, brings the majority of Guy's and St Thomas's children's services together under one roof. It was designed by Hopkins Architects and has been dubbed 'a hospital unlike any other'. It was funded by a grant of 50 million from Guy's and St Thomas's Charity and 10 million from the NHS.

Serving children in the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, as well as offering specialist care for children from across south east England and further afield (including internationally), the Evelina Children's Hospital is unique. The Evelina is a hospital created by children for children. Young patients and their families have been involved in shaping its environment and architecture from the earliest stages of design, resulting in a state-of-the-art hospital that redefines expectations.

Sir Jonathan Michael, Chief Executive, Guy's and St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust, says: "We wanted the new Evelina Children's Hospital to be much more than a landmark building on a landmark site. Our aim has been to create a hospital that does not feel like a hospital by involving children, their families and our staff in every stage of the design process. "The result is truly inspirational. The new Evelina is a supremely practical, state-of-the-art hospital, but one that is full of imagination, warmth and fun. It redefines the concept of a children's hospital and will undoubtedly influence the building of new hospitals in Britain and across the world."

Hopkins Architects won a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) approved competition to design the new Evelina and work started on the hospital in March 2002. Geoff Shepherd, Chief Executive, Guy's and St Thomas's Charity, says: "I am delighted that the Charity could provide a 50 million grant for the new Evelina Children's Hospital. The Trustees' decision to fund the first ever RIBA architectural competition for an NHS hospital has been key to the magnificent design of this amazing children's hospital. Hopkins have created a building which will be recognised internationally for its innovation and child-centred approach".

The new Evelina is full of ideas suggested by the very youngest 'customers' and their families who wanted colour, light and fun. A Children's Board of patients and local school children was established and their views on everything from the menus and furniture to the design of the building itself were noted and assimilated. Bright red rocket lifts, clearly visible from inside and outside the hospital, carry people to a four-storey central conservatory. Throughout the hospital, lively artwork, funded by Guy's and St Thomas's Charity, creates a welcoming, friendly atmosphere, whilst each floor of the hospital has been given a colour and a symbol taken from the natural world - from Ocean and Beach through to Savannah and Sky. Crucially this also avoids the need for a complex multi-lingual direction system to deal with the 140 languages spoken by local patients.

The hospital also has many play areas, as well as a 17-foot high helter skelter in the outpatients department for children to enjoy whilst they wait for their appointment. Reflecting the pioneering design spirit that has shaped the structure of the new Evelina, the hospital is also exploring new ways to improve the patient experience. Staff at all levels are experimenting with new ways of working, taking their cue directly from patients and their families to establish what makes their visit to the Trust good and what could make it better. The project has been called Improving the Patient Experience. New methods of recruitment, which better match applicants to job descriptions that reflect the needs of children and their families, have been used to recruit new staff working in the Evelina. To date, specialist assessment centres have been used to recruit more than 50 people to the new Evelina's environment team, making sure that staff recruited have the attitude and behaviour expected within a children's hospital, as well as the technical skills.

Dr Frances Flinter, Clinical Director, Children's Services, Guy's and St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust, says: "Entering a hospital can be an intimidating experience for anyone, but for children and their families it can be especially difficult. That's why we have worked so hard at the new Evelina to create an environment as far removed from the traditional institutional atmosphere as possible. "We have been working with children, parents and their carers through the Evelina Children's Board and the Pride of Guy's (a teenage patient support group), to encourage them to 'tell their stories' about their time in hospital. This helped us to plan a ground-breaking training and induction programme to support the 900 staff who will be working in the new Evelina, ensuring we offer the best experience for current and future patients." The training, which uses 'scenes' from children's real life experiences played by actors, allows staff to reflect on what makes the experiences of children and their families the best they can be. It is planned that the valuable lessons learnt from Improving the Patient Experience will eventually be rolled out to other areas throughout the Trust.

The Evelina Children's Hospital Appeal formally launched a 10 million campaign in March 2004 to ensure that the new hospital has the very best and most modern medical equipment and facilities. So far the campaign has raised more than 8 million - which has covered the costs of new equipment needed, including a state of the art MRI scanner, in time for the opening.

(Text from Evelina Press Release)

For further details click here For the history of the Evelina click here