IT IS one of the most exciting health initiatives for children in the south.
The new department, hoped to one day be part of a complete multi-million pound children’s hospital, would if given the go-ahead provide bespoke care for youngsters instead of them having to use the current busy adult A&E services.
But to stand any chance of raising the funds, those backing the scheme need the government to agree to match-fund monies raised locally. That’s why today the Daily Echo is helping to spearhead the campaign to persuade the Treasury and the Chancellor to ‘Say Yes’.
Our Say Yes George campaign will call on everyone in the city region and beyond to call on George Osborne to agree to a similar pledge that has raised £3million recently for the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children in London. The GOSH campaign saw the Treasury match fund £1.5million raised by Londoners to hit a £3million target.
In Southampton the aim will be to raise some £2million locally with the Treasury matching that amount.
The £4.8million project will include the development of a state-of-the-art eight-bed observation area, 11 glass-fronted and sound proof cubicles and on-hand x-ray facilities at Southampton Children’s Hospital.
It will also see the creation of a reception, triage and waiting area for young patients, access to resuscitation facilities via a new link corridor, a nurse practitioner room and will incorporate the children’s assessment unit.
Although there is currently a separate waiting area for children within the emergency department at Southampton General Hospital, it is located inside the adult department and was originally designed for adults with minor injuries.
At present, provision for children consists of four trolley bays, one isolation cubicle and an observation area for three patients – while the paediatric assessment unit is located four floors above.
To fund the development, a partnership has been formed between University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS), the Murray Parish Trust and Southampton Hospital Charity.
The Murray Parish Trust, a charity, was formed by actors Jim Murray and Sarah Parish in memory of their late daughter Ella-Jayne, who was treated at UHS but died of congenital heart failure seven years ago.
It is hoped this will then be matched with a further £2million to be raised by the Murray Parish Trust and Southampton Hospital Charity once the initial funding has been agreed, while UHS has already committed £800,000 to the project.
Fiona Dalton, chief executive of UHS, said: “This development is a crucial part of our strategy. As a regional centre, including major trauma centre, our children’s services are vital to our patients and partners across a large geographical area.
“Therefore, it is essential we update, support and grow our children’s hospital to meet the increase in demand we can expect in the coming years – but we cannot do it without additional investment.”
Although the fundraising campaign will not begin until the initial investment has been made, patients – past and present – and their families, as well as members of the public, can show their support by writing to their local MPs urging them to put pressure on the Chancellor to support the match-fund scheme.
Dr Peter Wilson, a consultant in paediatric intensive care and director of Southampton Children’s Hospital, added: “We are extremely proud of the services we deliver for young patients and can demonstrate some really tangible successes, such as some of the best outcomes in the country for cardiac surgery and intensive care and exemplary major trauma care.
“However, for us to continue to provide exceptional paediatric services we need facilities to meet future demand and securing national funding is vital to the development and progress of our children’s hospital.”
He added: “It is really important to us in these initial stages to build support from as many patients, families and members of the public as possible and we urge anyone who is interested in getting involved to engage with their MPs and make the case for investment in Southampton.”
What You Can Do To Help.
To help persuade Chancellor George Osborne to agree that the Treasury should match fun money raised locally towards a dedicated Children’s A&E Department at Southampton, you can make a difference by:
• Writing or emailing your MP calling on them to support the campaign.
• Email us at the Daily Echo with your stories of how you have had to use the Accident and Emergency Department at Southampton General Hospital – perhaps as a child patient yourself or to help your own children – and why you believe a dedicated Children’s Department is a must.
• Contact the Daily Echo’s Health Correspondent Maxwell Kusi-Obodum with your story and comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org.