Children's authors and peer to open £18.75m development
Captions: The Children's Unit Plaque that will be unveiled
31 March 2011
An £18.75m extension to the main building at Colchester General Hospital will be officially opened on Monday (4 April).
Children's authors Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen will unveil a plaque which they have designed for the Children's Unit, which occupies the ground floor of the development.
Their plaque includes images of some of their most popular characters - Nick's Percy The Park Keeper and Q Pootle 5 and Mick's Kipper and Wibbly Pig.
Lord Ribeiro, a pioneer of laparoscopic surgery and President of the Royal College of Surgeons from 2005 to 2008, will unveil a plaque on the first floor of the extension to officially open a surgical ward and Elective Care Centre.
Sally Irvine, Chair of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said the two-storey development was the biggest investment at Colchester General Hospital since the hospital opened in 1985.
"This is a landmark development for us and has been welcomed enthusiastically by patients, visitors and staff since it opened its doors to patients for the first time at the end of 2010," she said.
"It provides a spacious, modern environment for patients and the space it has freed up paves the way for future developments."
The Children's Unit includes a ward; an acute referral unit where urgent patients are referred, often by their GP, for assessment and sometimes treatment; and an outpatients department, part of which had previously been provided in a small temporary building.
The unit has been designed with its users in mind and features multi-coloured and patterned flooring, murals and a distinctive design for the reception and nurse bases, which has created a cheerful, child-friendly interior, with themes that include sea, space and sport. For example, one of the nurse bases has portholes.
The ward on the first floor is called Mersea Ward and is for elective (non-emergency) surgical patients (ENT, general surgery, urology and vascular surgery). It has 16 single en suite rooms and four bays each containing four beds.
The Elective Care Centre is for patients who come into hospital for pre-admission checks 1-6 weeks before the date of their inpatient operation (ie requiring at least one night in hospital, as opposed to day case patients). It is also used by patients requiring routine inpatient surgery the same day.
Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen both live near Colchester, are friends and have worked together. Millions of Percy The Park Keeper and Kipper books have been sold worldwide. Mick's parents have been looked after in Colchester General Hospital on several occasions.
Lord Ribeiro retired in 2008 after 29 years as a consultant surgeon at Basildon Hospital. He helped the hospital achieve university status in 2002 and also contributed to its successful bid for The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre.
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