VIDEO AND PICS: Exclusive tour of new Â£40m Sheffield Children's Hospital wing
It has been gradually taking shape over the past two years - and now a very special addition to Sheffield Children's Hospital is almost ready to welcome patients.
A new £40m wing is close to reaching its first major milestone, the opening of its new outpatients’ department this autumn.
Other sections of the new four-storey building - which will include 29 underground car parking spaces for disabled patients and their families - are due to open next year, including spacious wards and private rooms for patients.
The first floor will include the new outpatient department, offering an expanded main reception and larger doctors’ consulting rooms.
An inner courtyard play area is also being built along with a two-storey ‘play tower’ where poorly youngsters will be able to relax during their time in hospital.
Two special rooms for older children are also being created.
New technology should make managing hospital appointments more efficient, with an electronic check-in system directing people to the relevant waiting room and telling them their place in the queue to see a doctor.
The building has even been specially-designed to let in as much natural light as possible.
Site manager Paul Dobson, from construction firm Simons, said: “What we are going to give them is a brilliant new up-to-date hospital wing for children and parents in Sheffield and surrounding areas.
“It is going to make such a difference to the treatment of the patients and to the staff who work with them.”
Almost 2,000 construction staff have been involved with the painstaking project since it began with preparatory works in April 2014. Construction got under way in earnest in July 2014.
Mr Dobson said many of the workers have a personal connection to the hospital.
“We look to employ as many local tradesmen as we can,” he said.
“On this project, so many have a connection to the children’s hospital - either they have come here as a child, or a brother or sister was her. For them to come on site and give something back to the hospital is so rewarding.”
When the wards are completed, they will include more private en-suite rooms for children who have to stay in overnight - including sofa beds allowing parents to sleep in the same room as their sons and daughters.
The new wards will have four beds in a space larger than current hospital wards, which are shared between six patients. The wards will also include fold-down beds, again to allow parents to stay for the night.
Mr Dobson said tasks on site have included taking down two listed office buildings on Northumberland Road brick-by-brick to allow access to the construction site before rebuilding them from scratch in precisely the same way.
Engineers had to work closely with the hospital to ensure utilities like water, heating and electricity were unaffected in the existing facilities when they needed to be turned off on the construction site.
“It has been challenging. It is by a hospital with a main road by the side of it and you’ve got to continue to have the existing hospital running,” he said.
“You can’t stop the services in any shape or form. Without being dramatic, it is almost a matter of life and death.
“We have worked hand-in-glove with the hospital and it is a real team effort. Everything is very carefully pre-planned.”
One of the most complex jobs earlier this year involved roadworks on Clarkson Road, which went 2.5m under the road surface to cap off the hospital’s usual heating supply while the existing site ran off back-up boilers.
But Mr Dobson said the hard work will soon be worth it.
“The difference is going to be massive for the staff and patients,” he said.
Some of the hospital’s 3,000 members of staff have been given tours of the site to give them an idea of what the new facilities will look like.
There will be special terraces provided in the new wing for medics to use on their breaks.
Mr Dobson said: “It will be a little space where the staff can get away for a few minutes - it is little touches like that which are so good to put in.
“The work the staff do here is absolutely mind-blowing, with the treatment they give and the love they have for the kids.
“It is great to be able to give them something back.”