Barnsley Hospital has opened its doors to a new £3million Children’s Emergency Department and Assessment Unit – a state-of-the-art facility developed in the midst of the pandemic.

The new dedicated unit was opened with a safe and socially distanced ribbon-cutting ceremony by hospital Chief Executive Dr Richard Jenkins. The unit provides wraparound care for young patients requiring urgent help and assessments and will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The new facility in an extension at the front of the current Emergency Department and offers emergency access along with the new Children’s Assessment Unit. Previously, the two services were in separate areas on the hospital site, so now paediatric specialists can work together in closer proximity with improved communication and logistics.

Chief Executive Dr Richard Jenkins said:

“Any family needing to bring their child to hospital would naturally be concerned and families have also been worried about Covid-19 along with the risk of infection. Our new, more spacious facilities will provide seamless care which is child-friendly and supportive for families and carers. It means the children who arrive with injuries from accidents, infections or other conditions can be seen in a specialist area.

“The new units have space for all the teams and equipment needed. They will also let the current Emergency Department free up some of the space it has had to use to ensure staff and patients are safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. We want to welcome and reassure families and hope the prospect of visiting our new dedicated unit will provide extra confidence for parents.”

The freshly-decorated units have colourful and comforting décor, enhanced play areas and rooms named by a patient panel. The TV screens installed will loop specially designed animated videos for young patients to make them feel at ease and understand more about common procedures.

Barnsley Hospital Medical Director Dr Simon Enright added:

“The development is in line with regional and national NHS ambitions to ‘future-proof’ local hospital services as demand for care grows. The new unit will also afford our Emergency care teams much more physical space which will support infection prevention and control protocols we implemented during the pandemic.”

The new units have been designed with the input of children, young people and service users who have helped specify lighting, wayfinding, decorations, and how services are referred to with sensitive and appropriate language. Some families involved in consultations also volunteered to be part of the series of video animations which will welcome people to the units.