Princess Anne opens new state-of-the-art facilities as QVH celebrates 150 years

Thursday 17th October 2013

Princess Anne opens new state-of-the-art facilities as QVH celebrates 150 years

HRH Princess Anne has officially opened six new operating theatres and a refurbished children’s ward at Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) in East Grinstead as the pioneering hospital marks its 150th anniversary.

QVH is the South East’s regional specialist centre for reconstructive surgery, burns care and eye surgery. It treats people from all over the country who have been damaged or disfigured by accidents or disease, including cancer. Many people across the region with more common conditions of the hands, eyes, skin and teeth also choose to be treated by QVH’s world-leading clinical teams.

Princess Anne, who is Patron of QVH, toured the new theatres before unveiling a plaque to mark their opening. She also met staff and patients on Peanut Ward, the hospital’s recently refurbished children’s ward, where she was presented with a posy by seven year old patient Katie Wondin.

The new £12m state-of-the-art theatres are an important development for the hospital which is gradually replacing and modernising its aging buildings. In addition to the new theatres and refurbished children’s ward, QVH recently opened a purpose built outpatients department. Work is also underway on a further four new operating theatres, costing £4m, enabling the hospital to realise a long held ambition to replace all of its old theatres.

The new theatres will provide a more comfortable experience for patients and enable the hospital to be more efficient, minimising delays and maintenance costs. They also boast the latest equipment for microscopic surgery and lighting systems fitted with cameras so surgical teams can review operations and use them for training and research.

Unveiling the plaque, HRH the Princess Royal said: “It is really nice to be able to celebrate the 150th anniversary with a building like this.”

Matron Jo Davis has been closely involved in the design and development of the new theatres and gave the royal visitor a tour. Matron Jo Davis said: “It was a pleasure to meet Princess Anne and to show her around. We’ve been working on the new theatres for a long time and it’s great that our patients are now benefiting from them. We’ve always had excellent teamwork in our theatres, but these new facilities help us offer the very best care, making things much easier and more comfortable for our patients. They have one point of admission and remain in one modern, airy, fit for purpose building all the way through their procedure, from pre-op to discharge or return to the ward.”

Gary and Tonia Wondin the parents of seven year old Katie Wondin who presented Princess Anne with a posy of flowers, said: “Katie was so excited to meet Princess Anne. It was a wonderful treat for her after having an operation the amazing team at QVH has spent the last seven years preparing her for. She was born with a condition that meant the skin on the top of her head had not yet fused together, leaving a large open wound. In March this year Mr. Khandwala deemed her skull strong enough for two tissue expanders to be inserted under her sculp. In September the expanders had stretched enough to enable the skin to skilfully be joined together to give Katie a full head of hair. We can’t put into words how fantastic the care and treatment we have received at QVH has been with such an amazing outcome.”

Ten year old Jenny Barnard-Rance also met the royal visitor. She was admitted to QVH in March 2012, suffering from septic arthritis in her left wrist. She had daily operations to wash out the infection and large doses of antibiotics. Jenny spent around three weeks in hospital, followed by a long period of regular physiotherapy, and is now back to doing everything she used to do. Her mother Joelle said: “Peanut ward undoubtedly became a place of safety and comfort to Jenny. As her parents, we recognise the expertise and professionalism that saved our daughter’s life. But perhaps what makes Peanut Ward so special is the compassion and care of the team. They made Jenny laugh, and they made her feel safe.”

Richard Tyler, QVH Chief Executive, said: “It has been said in the past that QVH provides exceptional care from unexceptional buildings, so it is fantastic to mark our 150th anniversary by looking to the future with these new facilities. However, it is our staff rather than our buildings that really make a difference to our patient’s lives. We are proud that QVH is the most recommended hospital in the South East by inpatients and believe that these new facilities will help us to continue providing the excellent patient care for which we are renowned.”

It is 150 years since the first East Grinstead Cottage Hospital was founded in 1863. Following a number of incarnations as a small community hospital, the Queen Victoria Hospital, as it became known by the 1930s, moved to its current site in 1936. It became world famous through the work of surgeon Archibald McIndoe who was knighted in recognition of his pioneering plastic surgery techniques and holistic treatment of allied aircrew during WWII.

See photos of the visit