The Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, stepped inside the newest NHS hospital building in the country when he visited the Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) in Brighton today (Wednesday 9 August).
The Louisa Martindale Building (LMB) welcomed its first patients in June this year and is part of a multi-million redevelopment that includes replacing the oldest NHS building, The Barry Building, which had been in service for 195 years.
The Secretary of State met local senior NHS leaders in The Heritage Space, a painstakingly-recreated interior of the grade 2 listed chapel that originally stood in the neighbouring Barry Building, but has been preserved within the state-of-the-art modern facility.
He was then shown the new stroke and rehabilitation suite – this represents a huge improvement in patient care and experience, compared to the previously cramped conditions of the Barry Building.
The new building brings the Stroke Unit and the Acquired Brain Injury service together on one floor, in line with best clinical practice, with five times as much space per bed and with 65% of beds in ensuite single rooms. Both the stroke and acquired brain injury services now have access to a large well equipped rehabilitation gym, with an adjoining, dedicated courtyard garden that also supports patient rehabilitation.
The Health Secretary met stroke survivor Christina Kadir as he walked around the brand-new unit. And Christina was in no doubt about the new building. “It is a unique place, believe me – it is just incredible, and what a difference it makes.”
Christina, from Brighton, recovered from a previous stroke in the neighbouring Barry Building, dating back to 1828, and is now being cared for in the modern LMB. Christina added: “It is amazing what the staff have been able to achieve for me,” she said.
The Secretary of State ended with a visit to the new Discharge Lounge – a dedicated space for patients ready to leave hospital. The new facility in the LMB has seen patient usage rise by 198% compared to the old service, with the pleasant and relaxing environment a much better place for patients to spend their time waiting to be discharged. Getting patients moved quickly and safely out of hospital is a fundamental part of improving their experience of care, and easing pressures in the Emergency Department. The new lounge has 18 chair spaces, and a 2-bed bay, with direct access to the hospital basement car park.
The LMB is a once-in-a-generation leap forward for hospital care in Sussex, with 100,000 patients a year set to benefit from the new facilities and the improvements in outcomes and experiences they will bring.
The building is named after Dr Louisa Martindale, a pioneering doctor who championed the cause of medical education for women, worked as a surgeon during two world wars, and was a world-renowned gynaecologist. She was also the first female GP in Brighton and was instrumental in setting up the New Sussex Hospital for Women in the city, the first of its type in the area.
The chief executive of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, Dr George Findlay, said: “I am proud that I was able to show the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care our fantastic new hospital building in Brighton.
“He stepped inside one of the most impressive environments for patient care that he will have ever seen. Millions of people will benefit from the fantastic facility for years to come, and it was a real privilege to able to show him the building, and the incredible work our colleagues do there.
“It is a genuine pleasure to be at the Trust for the opening of the new building, and to know just how much it will benefit patients, their families, and our colleagues.
“I would like to thank, again, the thousands of people who have worked on it over the years.”
After his visit The Health and Social Care Secretary said: “I was delighted to visit The Louisa Martindale Building which is now open at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, marking another milestone in the biggest hospital building programme in a generation.
“The new building includes over 300 beds, 28 wards and departments featuring the latest healthcare designs so every patient room benefits from natural light with a sea view.
“This will improve services for staff and thousands of patients a year who will be treated here, as the government delivers on our commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030, expected to be backed by over £20 billion.”
The LMB is stage one of the RSCH 3Ts redevelopment, which will replace the entire front half of the hospital, also including a new Sussex Cancer centre and a much-needed service yard. 3Ts stands for Trauma, Teaching and Tertiary care.