Children’s cancer wards which closed more than three years ago amid concerns about the water system will reopen next week following an £8.9 million upgrade.
Children in wards 2A/2B at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) in Glasgow were moved to wards in the adult Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in September 2018 to allow for further investigations after the concerns emerged.
The Scottish Hospitals Inquiry is currently investigating the construction of the QEUH campus, which includes the children’s hospital, after issues at the flagship site were linked to the deaths of two children.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said that wards 2A and 2B, known as the Schiehallion unit, will reopen on March 9 and will provide a safe, high-quality environment for patients.
The refurbishment has included the replacement of the ventilation system, with 11 new air handling units, while patient rooms have been refurbished, with upgraded en suite facilities.
A new Scottish pediatric molecular radiotherapy service (Smart) unit is also being brought into use, providing specialist therapy for children across Scotland who previously would have had to travel to England to receive it.
Dr Scott Davidson, deputy medical director (Acute), at NHSGGC, said: “During the refurbishment work, our staff have continued to provide the very best care for our young patients in Wards 6A and 4B at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, and I would like to thank them all for their professionalism and dedication during this time.
“The return to the RHC is an important moment for patients, relatives and carers, and staff, and we have put in place a comprehensive plan to ensure the move goes smoothly, and that our young patients and their families or carers are fully supported, and kept safe.
“Through the extensive work we have carried out, we are confident that we have the highest-quality and safest environment in which to look after all the needs of our young patients and their families or carers.”
He thanked former patients Molly Cuddihy and Sara Millar, who have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the hospital which enabled the creation of a new, purpose-built chill-out area for children aged eight to 12 years, to go alongside spaces for younger children and teenagers.
The air coming into Ward 2A is filtered using Hepa (high efficiency particulate air) filtration, and bedrooms have 10 air changes per hour to ensure continuous fresh air for patients.
In addition, the system now uses a “pressure cascade”, which provides another layer of protection by ensuring that air will always flow away from vulnerable patients, out into the corridors and ultimately out of the ward.
NHSGGC said that water in the hospital meets all national standards and is safe to drink.
In addition, as is the case in all areas of the hospital, the water undergoes a process of filtration and regular dosing with chlorine dioxide while in places where the most vulnerable patients are cared for, such as Ward 2A/2B, additional filters have been added to the taps.
Julie Critchley, director of NHS Scotland Assure, said: “NHS Scotland Assure is here to bring experts together to reduce risk in the healthcare built environment and we are pleased to have been able to support NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with the successful re-opening of Schiehallion.”
As part of the upgrade there are also new iPads and entertainment system in patient rooms and upgraded kitchen and sleeping facilities for parents and carers.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.