HOSPITAL staff have celebrated the launch of new facilities after work to expand the A&E in Winchester was completed.

As part of improvements across Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT), building work has been taking place over past few months to extend the emergency department at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

One of the improvements was an Emergency Department Paediatric Area (EDPA), a specialist unit for children.

Three Rapid Assessment and Treatment (RAT) bays have also been created, allowing patients who arrive by ambulance to be assessed quickly. A new reception and waiting area has also been created.

Karen Bumstead, clinical matron, said: “We are really happy with the new facilities and they are going to make a big difference in a number of ways.

“Not only will they mean that our patients have a better experience when they need our help, but they will allow us to deliver the standard of care that we aspire to, both for our adult and younger patients.

“Having a dedicated children’s area will go a long way to meeting the requirements that the Care Quality Commission asked us to address when they visited us last year, while the Rapid Assessment and Treatment bays will allow us to begin caring for patients who arrive by ambulance sooner, allowing ambulance crews to get out to their next emergency call faster."

During a special ceremony, which saw Winchester MP Steve Brine officially open the new facilities, non-clinical members of the team were celebrated and got the chance to see first-hand the positive difference their hard work has made.

Mr Brine said: “The trust received a difficult CQC report last year which required improvements be made, especially to the way our emergency department handles children. This report was worrying but it didn’t come as a huge surprise because of the pressures our emergency department has been under and the ageing building it inhabits.

“Major work was carried out over the past few months, and the result is a fantastic new emergency department which is now fully operational. I saw for myself the fantastic impact on staff morale and it has really energised them.”