Nursing Times, March 15, 1979

Paediatric News

Moving to University

– by Louise, age 12

Today it's the 7th of November, the day is Wednesday and everywhere the preparations are going on, as everyone gets ready and prepares for the big move. This morning the large colour television was taken down from its stand at the end of the ward, and packed up to be sent off to the University. Everywhere you look, people and desks are covered with labels announcing the move to the new hospital with the phrase "I'm going to university."

Now it's Thursday, nearly all the children have been sent home, leaving me – a boy called Alan – and a few toddlers. This morning the baby bath was disconnected from its place in the bathroom and taken away. These last few days have been very boring, it's difficult to know what to do, since there is nothing left to occupy ourselves with. The television has gone, and all the toys are packed up in large crates. The ward looks very bare an empty now with all the walls stripped of pictures and decorations. This evening the two sisters came, all dressed in thick jumpers and trousers instead of their uniforms, to sort out the bookcase and to see which books were to go to the University Hospital and which were to be thrown away. Everything that is being moved to the University (the beds, television, books, toys, etc) has been stuck with a yellow label marked "F Floor Ward 18" which is to be the name of our ward at the new hospital, instead of "Princess Mary Ward."

On Friday my bed was moved right down to the front of the ward, near the entrance doors so as to make it easier to move the beds out on Saturday morning. There isn't much for the nurses to do really, with so few patients. It seems so strange to see the ward usually so full and busy, now practically empty, with rows of stripped, empty beds, and the plane bare walls. This evening the last of the toddlers were sent home, leaving just two patients on the ward – Alan and I. This evening we had a surprise for a lot of the babies were brought to our ward in cots that evening. Apparently, they were staying for the night, and then in the morning they were being taken to the University with us.

I can remember that night, as I lay in bed, how strange everything looked. At the top of the walls there were two large metal crates, containing all the toys and books. Everywhere there was a feeling of bareness. The top ward was completely empty, and all the unoccupied beds were collected together in the middle.

At last, it's Saturday morning! There is a feeling of intense excitement in the air. For the last half hour great crowds of people have been coming and going on the ward, busy with last-minute jobs and packing. Several times we were told that the ambulances were ready to take us, but it turned out not to be. I had never realised before just how many things I actually had. At last everything was ready, and I was left with three enormous bulging carrier bags, containing my belongings.

The next minute Professor Hull (our consultant at the hospital) arrived, and told us that the ambulances were ready. Nurse Shaw and Nurse Watts were to accompany Alan and me to the Hospital. Alan carried his own bag. Professor Hull carried the biggest of mine and the nurses carried the other two. We followed Professor Hull down long empty echoing passages, then down a flight of stairs and onto the outpatients. The entrance doors were wide open, and outside was an ambulance being loaded with equipment.

The air was bitterly cold, and everything was covered in a heavy, swirling grey fog so thick indeed that the trees right outside could hardly be seen, and only the outlines of the nearest buildings were visible. Alan and I sat down on the seat near the door, with the nurses, while Professor Hull said that he would take Alan and me and the two nurses to the University in his car, so we put all our bags in the boot, and then got in. It seemed quite a way in the car, but we couldn't see much outside because of the fog.

My first impression of the new hospital was that of an enormous brand-new building, and I was completely taken in by its immense size. We got out the car and entered the hospital on B Floor. The first thing that struck me about it was that it was such a contrast to the Children's Hospital. If we hadn't have been with Professor Hull, I know that I would have been completely lost. The whole hospital was just like one gigantic maze, with endless miles of corridors all leading into each other, and apparently not getting there. Our destination was F Floor, which happened to be the very topmost floor of the hospital. The view from the window was said to be marvellous.

We followed Professor Hull into the lift and then went up and up, until at last we finally were there, then along another mile of passages until we finally arrived at Ward 18. My first thought that it was completely different from the children's. Instead of a big, long, wide ward, with beds on either side, the ward was divided into three days with six beds in each. There was a narrow corridor outside the bays running the whole length of the ward, and the ceiling was much lower. Everything looked new and shiny and compact.

Alan and I were shown into the middle bay, and the first thing I noticed was how pleasant everything looked. There were three beds on each side of the bay, with smart blue counterpanes on them. In the centre there was a small table and chairs, and a vase of flowers in the middle of the table. There were big colourful posters and pictures stuck on all the walls of the bay, and there was a bright cheerful atmosphere to it. There were also new deep orange lockers, which were much nicer than the old wooden ones. The only disappointment on that first day was that I couldn't see any of the marvellous view from the window, since the fog had come down thicker and denser than ever.

We were playing the game at the table with a nurse, when suddenly a crowd of people from the television company came round with cameras, and took pictures of all the bays and the three of us having a game at the table. We were later shown on the programme "Nationwide."

A little later on I was asleep on my bed when a nurse woke me up and told me that I was to have my picture taken. I went into the other bay where I was given a "Cubit" – a felt toy which was the symbol of the new hospital. Then the singer Clodagh Rodgers arrived, and we all had our picture taken around the big toy dog, with the babies. I, for one, will never forget the day I moved to the University, and everything that happened there.


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