Nursing Times, March 15, 1979

Paediatric News

The move of the Nottingham Children's Hospital to the Queen's Medical Centre

Vera Wootten,

Nursing Officer, Paediatric Unit, University Hospital, Nottingham

Early in 1978 after many years of planning, the date was decided for the closing of the Nottingham Children's Hospital and moving the children's facilities in South Nottinghamshire into the new University Hospital at the Queens Medical Centre. The move into "Phase One" was to be in temporary accommodation, an adult surgical block adapted to the needs of children. The purpose-built children's accommodation will be opened in "Phase Two" of the hospital.

The date was fixed for November 11 and everyone began planning to that end, deciding which equipment to transfer and which was too old and in need of replacement, and that which would not be required in the new unit but could be utilised in other hospitals. Plans were drawn up deciding which equipment could be transferred during the week before November 11 and which had to wait for the actual day.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly until an industrial dispute in the works department brought to a halt the modification necessary in the new unit. The planned checking of transferred equipment was put in jeopardy. Several weeks of uncertainty, confusion and replanning the move ensued then two weeks before D-Day the men returned and lists of essential work were drawn up so that the wards would be ready to receive the children.

November 11 dawned foggy and cold. There were 19 children in Nottingham Children's Hospital for the transfer, which began at 9am.

The first patient moved was a baby from the high dependency nursing area who fortunately was not requiring artificial ventilation which made the transfer task much easier. The majority of children had orthopaedic disorders and were on traction or in plaster; these patients were the last to be transferred and by 10:30am were very excited and anxious to get going. The prospect of being on television or in the local newspaper added to their excitement.

Accident and Emergency facilities were planned so that the department at Nottingham Children's Hospital will close at 9am and the new one open at the same time. However, the first patient arrived at University Hospital at 7:30am. Fortunately the staff had been divided to cover both areas and so all went well.

It was with mixed feelings that the staff said goodbye to the familiar cosy atmosphere of the old hospital which was first occupied in December 1900. There has been a children's hospital in Nottingham since 1869, the original building being Russell House in Postern Street. In 1900, as now, the trends in caring for sick children had proven the accommodation in adequate, therefore the reasons for moving with similar. The 1978 move will provide better facilities for investigations and treatment as the paediatric unit will be set in the complex of the medical school and schools of nursing and radiography.

Some of the staff have spent most of their nursing careers in Chestnut Grove, many of the senior nurses had trained and worked in small paediatric hospitals and the new building seemed a daunting prospect. In spite of the pre-move orientation courses that all have attended, there are still many policies which have not actually been tested with patients and there are still areas of the vast hospital in which we lose one's way. The children's department is situated on the top floor of the hospital and as yet, the only area occupied by inpatients. It is hoped that the adult wards will become operational by mid-1979.

Several weeks after moving and several problems later, most of the staff are now feeling at home and it is difficult to recall that the move was such a short time ago. The walls of the long corridors dawned with children's paintings and the whole feeling is that the children are making F Floor their home for the interim while we all plan to move on into even better facilities. All our friends who regularly visited Chestnut Grove with Christmas gifts hunted us out at the top of the building and still think of us as the Children's Hospital.

The staff busily prepared for the annual pantomime produced in January in spite of the loss of the regular costumes in the move. Fortunately the local theatres stepped in and loaned suitable costumes for Cinderella.

By continuing these links with the old hospital, we hope to take on into Phase Two the spirit of the Nottingham Children's Hospital.


Transfer of Children’s Services to the Queen’s Medical Centre