ROYAL Hampshire County Hospital welcomed the first patients to its new and improved outpatients department this week.

The hospital opened some services at the £3.3m department on Monday (Dec 31) before services began in full on Wednesday.

It is the culmination of two years work on the project with staff delighted to see the department in Burrell Wing finally in use.

Diane Blanchard, operations director for family and clinical support, said: “This is a modern, state-of-the-art development designed around patients needs. We have had a lot of input from patients around their experiences and we have kept what’s important to them in the design.

“I must thank all the staff who worked so hard to make sure this would be ready, particularly our housekeeping staff who more or less gave up their Christmas holidays.”

All clinics from the previous outpatient building in Romsey Road have moved into the new wing along with Audiology and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) clinics.

Outpatients manager James Montgomery added: “What we used to have in Romsey Road was a good building for its time but it was past its sell by date for modern patients.

“The main thing for us was to have a new building that was fit for purpose and improved the patient experience. The aim is to make it inviting, welcoming and accessible for patients to get to their appointments easily.”

New features include hi-tech self check-in machines and information screens while the department also has a buggy to transport people with mobility problems to and from their cars.

Jason Richardson was one of the first patients to try out the new services on Monday morning and said it was a big improvement.

Mr Richardson, 46, of Westfield Road, Chandler’s Ford, said: “The new building is excellent and is a big upgrade on the old building. I think it will give people more confidence when coming in and it is a lot easier to find on site.”

The project was funded by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which took over the RHCH in January.

The four-storey Burrell Wing was built around seven years and has mostly been empty due to the financial problems at the Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust which was merged into the new foundation trust in 2011.