PHOTOS: The new hospital at Southmead
THIS spacious room with its en-suite facilities, views across the city and its own door is a far cry from the traditional Nightingale wards associated with hospitals.
But it is an example of what patients can expect when the city's new £430 million hospital opens in spring 2014.
The construction site at Southmead Hospital was opened up yesterday for a look inside, two years after work began in August 2010.
When it opens, the hospital will bring together much of the healthcare currently carried out at Frenchay and Southmead under one roof.
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Developers Carillion and the hospital trust have announced that external work on the building is complete and now the focus is moving inside.
Single rooms with en-suite toilet and shower facilities will be available for 75 per cent of inpatients at the superhospital while the remaining quarter of patients – generally the sickest who require more care – will be cared for in spacious four-bedded bays.
Mock-ups of rooms have now been created at Southmead to give an idea of what patients and staff can expect when the hospital opens its doors. They show the size and layout of the ward rooms, as well as the consulting rooms and reception area.
The rooms have been accurately reproduced, even down to the types of door and window frames, plug points and flooring that will be used when they are fitted in the new hospital.
And they show that the experience of being in hospital will be much more pleasant once work on the project has been completed.
They have been designed with input from clinical staff, including nurse Jo Anyon, who has been seconded to the new hospital project for two years – an opportunity which she has relished.
"The principles behind single rooms is around infection control, privacy and dignity but when we have spoken to patients and staff there has been an overwhelming feeling that it will enable people to get peace and quiet and a good night's sleep, and I think that is the benefit patients will feel the most," she said.
"When you are unable to shut the door there will be the unfortunate person in the ward who is poorly, which means there are people coming and going.
"There is evidence that a good night's sleep helps recovery."
The rooms have been designed with more space around the beds to carry out care, along with "smart walls", with sockets for the various different medical equipment that might be necessary.
Work has already started on creating the wards and patient bedrooms inside the modern hospital, with lights and hoists installed in some.
Large windows fill the rooms with natural light and also provide views of the hospital and beyond – in some they stretch as far as the two Severn bridges.
Deputy director of projects at North Bristol NHS Trust, Tricia Down, said: "The hospital has been designed with as much natural light in as possible, which is really important for patients as research has shown it helps heal them."
Landscaped courtyard areas have also been created between the ward blocks so that patients can look out of the windows in their rooms onto green spaces.
The new hospital building has been split into clinical areas and ward areas, with a 280m (919ft) long glass-roofed concourse running through the centre.
The space is currently filled with a mass of scaffolding masking its scale, but glimpses of green panels can be seen on part of the glass wall lining the concourse. Different-coloured panels are used along the corridor helping identify different zones for patients; part of efforts in the design of the hospital to make it easier for patients and visitors to find their way around. Unlike the current Southmead Hospital, with its 54 entrances, there will be just two entrances for patients and visitors – one at either end of the building.
And while there are now several parking areas scattered around the site, there will be a single multi-storey car park for patients and visitors, with access directly to the hospital building.
At one end of the building is the entrance for outpatients and planned surgery and procedures, while at the other end of the block is the emergency department, with separate entrances for ambulances and those walking in.
Patient and visitor areas are kept separate from both the clinical areas and the back-of-house functions, such as laundry and plant rooms. By creating distinct areas, the aim is to prevent the current situation of patients being wheeled down the same corridors that visitors are using.
With work now concentrating on the inside of the building, Carillion's project director, Keith Hutton, said workers on the site are at their peak with between 1,100 and 2,500 on site on any given day.
"We are pretty much in the position we planned to be," he said. "We are pretty much working in every area now, with people from throughout the trade."
All that remains on the outside of the main building is to put up the hospital entrance. Demolition of some of the current main hospital buildings will follow, along with the construction of the new visitor and patient multi-storey car park and changes to roads around the site.
The building will be handed over to the hospital trust by Carillion in March 2014, ready for fitting out for the first patients to move in around May/ June.
Ms Down, who has been working on the new hospital project since 2005, said work is now starting on what needs to be done to commission the hospital.
"This job is very rewarding," she said.
"I can see the fruits of everyone's labour every time I come in here. We are pleased with the design and the quality of the building."
As previously reported in the Post, there could be a new name for the hospital and work on choosing a potential new name is likely to start in the coming months. It is anticipated that staff will help come up with possible names before the public are invited to share their views.
Trust employees, including those at Frenchay Hospital, are now being given the chance to take tours of the hospital, which Ms Down said is helping them to get a feel for it.
"They love it and I think they can see what a great building it is," she said.
"It has proved really helpful, particularly for people at Frenchay."
Marie-Noelle Orzel, the hospital trust's chief executive, said: "It is amazing to see the new hospital take shape before our eyes to become a beacon of modern healthcare for the future.
"With less than two years to go until the new hospital opens we are entering into an exciting period of change that will enable us to provide improved healthcare for our patients."