Hospital staff use emergency department visits to reduce fears of young patients

999 Club

Staff at Southampton Children’s Hospital have developed an innovative initiative to reduce young people’s fears of treatment and admission – by inviting them into the emergency department.

Known as the 999 Club, it is the brainchild of the youth and play services team at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and clinicians at South Central Ambulance Service.

It involves inviting groups of school children from reception year and above from across the south of England to visit the emergency department where they are able to meet staff, tour the facility and see inside an ambulance.

They are also given the chance to take part in interactive activities including guess the bones and a trauma challenge where they can experience being a nurse or doctor in the department, while staff also use the visits to raise awareness of injuries and safety precautions.

Each session lasts for two hours and every pupil receives a certificate and goody bag to mark the trip.

“This initiative gives pupils from the age of four and above the opportunity to participate in activities related to emergency care and what they may see, hear or experience if they come into hospital via ambulance or with their parents as an emergency,” said Joyce Stebbings, youth and play services manager at UHS.

“For many children and young people, coming to hospital for the first time can be extremely frightening.

“By having the opportunity to look around the department in a fun and informative way we hope to reduce the fears and associated anxieties that children experience when attending the emergency department.”

The 999 Club, which was piloted at Southampton Children’s Hospital earlier this year, will be launched officially tomorrow (Friday) with a visit from pupils from Beechwood Junior School.

Any schools interested in becoming members of the 999 Club can email for more information.

A fundraising appeal led by Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity – part of Southampton Hospital Charity – and The Murray Parish Trust was launched last year to raise £2 million towards a new £4.8 million children’s emergency and trauma department. For more information on how to support the campaign, visit

Posted on Thursday 7 December 2017