Public to be given 'most extensive' insight into life at Southampton's hospitals

Members of the public will be given exclusive access to Southampton’s teaching hospitals on Saturday (24 September) as part of an action-packed open day event.

In one of the most extensive behind the scenes insights into the workings of an NHS trust, visitors will be able to tour the operating theatres, laboratories, X-ray department and mortuary at Southampton General Hospital.

There will be a chance to see what it is like to work and be treated in intensive care through a makeshift unit complete with a simulated patient, ventilator and monitor, while the emergency department will demonstrate the use of spinal boards and ultrasound machines.

The children’s intensive care team will highlight the importance of road safety through a paediatric major trauma scenario and the children’s air ambulance, which transfers critically ill and injured patients, will be situated on the helipad for guests to visit and meet the pilots.

Clinicians in the surgical day unit will talk people through the tests, checks and discussions patients undergo before an operation and researchers in the NIHR Wellcome Trust Southampton Clinical Research Facility will showcase cardiopulmonary and fitness testing in the physiology lab.

The diabetes team will offer blood glucose testing, stroke experts will take blood pressure measurements, maternity staff will provide the opportunity to try on a pregnancy belly and the LifeLab team will give people a chance to see their own DNA and X-ray their hands.

The event will also see the unveiling of the world’s first giant inflatable breast, developed by Inflatable Body Organs with the support of surgeons at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, to help increase awareness and understanding of the disease and its symptoms.

In addition, scientists and staff from the Southampton Cancer Research UK Centre will be on hand to meet visitors, host laboratory tours and discuss some of the latest innovations in cancer research and treatment, while the radiotherapy department will demonstrate how they make head and neck masks by making bracelets out of thermoplastic.

People will be able to find out about other aspects of life within the trust, such as how much it costs to run the organisation, how patient feedback is used to change services and the role of the Council of Governors.

Meanwhile, any visitors who are UHS patients will be able to sign up to the trust’s personal online health service My Medical Record – which allows users to receive appointments, lab results and documents electronically – if they bring photo identification.

There will also be opportunities to sample hospital food, visit the chaplaincy, go behind the scenes of Southampton Hospital Radio and Radio Lollipop and meet special guests Willow and Val, the hawks who keep watch over the hospital trust’s buildings.

Younger visitors will be able to play giant Operation, dress up as a scientist, take their injured soft toys to the teddy bear hospital, build DNA from jelly babies and get their arms plastered in the casting room.

Dr Derek Sandeman, medical director at UHS, said: “This year’s open day will potentially offer the most extensive look behind the scenes of a working NHS teaching hospital, with more than 100 departments and activities on offer and exclusive access to operating theatres, laboratories, research facilities and even our mortuary.

“We are really excited to be able to provide this opportunity to members of the public and we hope to see as many people as possible come and join us on the day – it will be a great day out for all the family.”

Katherine Barnes, open day event co-ordinator, added: “Our staff, as well as many of our partners and other organisations, have really gone above and beyond to make this open day special for our visitors and celebrate some of the amazing work carried out within the NHS every day.”

The open day takes place on Saturday (24 September) from 11am to 3pm at Southampton General Hospital with free visitor parking for the duration of the event. For more information, visit

Posted on Monday 19 September 2016