An NHS charity is asking Star readers to get behind one of the most ambitious fundraising efforts in Sheffield’s history.
This week, The Children’s Hospital Charity is launching an appeal for three new projects – a new emergency department, a helipad and a new inpatient cancer ward.
After a new £40m wing housing a new outpatients department and wardspace were opened in the last few years, other parts of the hospital are now in desperate need of renewal.
And the long-standing issue of air ambulance patients being set down on Weston Park and brought across the A57 on stretchers needs addressing sooner rather than later.
But to ensure sure all these life-saving and care-enhancing developments get built, they need to raise £14.25m over the next five years – and that’s where you come in.
Charity director, David Vernon-Edwards, said: “This is our biggest-ever fundraising appeal and these projects have never been more needed as we strive to build a better future for Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“Every donation, large or small, will make a difference to young patients from across the UK and beyond who depend on our hospital’s excellent care.”
Sheffield Children’s Hospital is a nationally significant centre of excellence which sees about 269,000 patients each year – or one every two minutes.
With just 18 staff, the Children’s Hospital Charity currently raise about £2.9 million a year – but need to get that figure up to about £7 million if they are to realise their goal.
To compare, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London have over 200 people working for their charity and raise around £80 million each year.
A tour of the new building reveals just what the charity’s money has been used for.
Opened in April last year the design completely reimagined the way the hospital operated. An atrium acts as a reception area and a central hub from which all other services are reached.
Quentin Blake illustrations adorn the walls and the corridors have seating spaces in the windows which make the place look more like a swanky office building than a hospital.
All the individual rooms have their own bathrooms and parents’ beds, while the main ward bays are far bigger than they were and parents sleep on properly sprung pull down beds rather than the camp beds of the past.
There is also a new parents’ room which affords mums and dads the chance to view the outside world and an amazing ‘play tower’ paid for in part by a previous Star appeal.
“To see it now it is unbelievable,” said David.
Such is the quality of the new building that other parts of the hospital have begun to look at it with something approaching envy.
Designed for 32,000 visits a year, the emergency department is now dealing with 60,000 admissions every 12 months.
The emergency department appeal hopes to raise £4.5m – plus an extra £1m for a new child assessment unit where children with safeguarding issues can be securely looked after.
Jennifer Cherrington, emergency department sister, confirmed that while they love the hospital’s new building, many of her colleagues had be wondering when it would be ‘their turn’.
She said: “I love it here and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. You can’t describe the feeling you get when you make difference to a family’s life by giving them the best we can.
“I just really hope that we can get a big emergency department to provide the excellent care that we do provide but in a department that is actually fit for purpose.”
Related to developments in the emergency department are plans to build a helipad on the roof of the Stephenson wing, adding two storeys to the hospital and costing a cool £6million.
At the moment, helicopters carrying the most poorly children the hospital sees have to land on Weston Park – with patients then being ferried across the road on stretchers.
The helicopters can’t land there at night, however, so sometimes patients have go to Northern General and then on to the Children’s Hospital by land ambulance – wasting precious minutes.
When built, the helipad will allow these patients direct access to the emergency department and the specialist diagnostic equipment that could save their lives.
So excited are the staff that many have started raising money for the appeal already.
Nurse Susan Musson – who hasn’t had her hair cut in 17 years – is having it all off on August 1 and has so far raised around £1,000. Secretary Alison Kimber will being doing a skydive.
A tentative target date for opening the new department has been penciled in for March 2023 – but that depends on them raising the money.
As well as the new emergency department and helipad, the third strand of the new appeal focuses on cancer provision at the hospital.
The cancer and leukemia department treats around 100 patients each year – some of whom come from as far afield as Northampton.
A new cancer outpatients department – built with the help of Sheffield cancer charity PACT – has left the corresponding inpatients ward looking like a poor relation.
Here, parents still sleep on chairs, which – while maybe manageable for a night or two – is impossible over the length of time many children have to stay there for.
Dan Yeomanson, consultant paediatric oncologist, said the £2.75million that the charity was raising for his department would make a massive difference to the lives of his patients and their families.
He said: “We do as much treatment as we can as outpatients or at home but inevitably people will have to come to hospital, and the importance of this project is that it will make that admission as easy as possible.
“You can’t say that having better facilities is going to improve outcomes – we are always going to deliver the same quality of care – but it is really about the patient experience and that is why the charity funding is so important.”
“The NHS can provide a level of kit and specification which is functional, but the charity allows us to put in a level of finish and equipment that will absolutely make a difference.”
“The Children’s Hospital Charity funding will allow us to make it the best we can.”
To donate, visit www.tchc.org.uk.