ROYAL Hampshire County Hospital has welcomed the first patients to its new and improved outpatients department.

The hospital opened some services earlier this week before they begin fully today.

It is the culmination of two years’ work on the £3.3 million project with staff delighted to see the department in Burrell Wing finally in use.

Patient input Diane Blanchard, operations director for family and clinical support, said: “This is a modern, state-of-the-art development designed around patients’ needs. We have had a lot of input from patients around their experiences and we have kept what’s important to them in the design.”

All clinics from the previous outpatient building in Romsey Road have moved into the new wing along with Audiology and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinics.

Jason Richardson was one of the first patients to try out the new services on Monday morning and said it was a big improvement.

Mr Richardson, 46, of Westfield Road, Chandler’s Ford, said: “The new building is excellent and is a big upgrade on the old building. I think it will give people more confidence when coming in and it is a lot easier to find on site.”

New features include hi-tech self check-in machines and information screens while the department also has a buggy to transport people with mobility problems to and from their cars.

The project was funded by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which took over the RHCH in January.

The four-storey Burrell Wing was built around seven years ago and has mostly been empty due to the financial problems at the Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust which was merged into the new foundation trust in 2011.