Patients, staff and special guests marked the completion of a new £2.4m specialist unit for young people with cancer at Southampton General Hospital at an official opening ceremony today (Tuesday, 17 December).
The state-of-the-art ten-bed facility, funded by Teenage Cancer Trust, gives 16 to 24 year olds from across the south of England and the Channel Islands access to a dedicated treatment centre for the first time.
Around 100 young people are diagnosed with cancer across Hampshire, Dorset, the Channel Islands, South Wiltshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex every year. Previously, these patients were treated on either a children’s ward with patients much younger than them or on an adult ward alongside older or elderly patients.
The unit, opened by Teenage Cancer Trust patron Sarah, Duchess of York, features six inpatient en-suite bedrooms with sofa beds for family and friends to stay overnight, as well as four day care beds.
It has a large social room where young people can play pool, listen to music, play games consoles or watch films on the latest Smart TVs, while there is also a kitchen where meals can be cooked at any time of the day or night.
“It is great to have the unit up and running – even after just a few months we can already see how the new facilities are benefiting our patients and their families,” said Louise Hooker, Teenage Cancer Trust lead nurse at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
“By helping us build this amazing ward, our local community supporters have done something very special for young people with cancer and I hope they feel as proud as we all do.”
In addition, current and former patients worked closely with architects at UHS to create unique unit features such as electronic fireplaces in the bedrooms that can be changed to various scenes such as a roaring fire, a waterfall or a fish tank.
Patients also requested photograph collages along the corridors of their local hobbies and interests, including the Isle of Wight’s Bestival and Southampton Football Club, as well as a piece of fake grass from the unit’s turf cutting ceremony which marked the start of construction eight months ago.
Siobhan Dunn, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “We’ve always wanted to build a unit at Southampton General Hospital and this amazing facility has some really unique features.
“That’s partly thanks to the design input we have had from the patients but also thanks to the generosity of local communities who’ve worked so hard with us over four years to raise the money.”
She added: “This unit will help so many young people with cancer and their families feel less alone at an incredibly difficult time of their lives.”
Posted on Tuesday 17 December 2013