SWINDON’S new children’s emergency department specially designed to make their stay as comfortable as possible was officially inaugurated yesterday.

The Great Western Hospital unveiled its redesigned A&E following an ambitious overhaul to allow its youngest patients to feel comfortable and at ease away from the adult unit.

Building work began in August 2013 on the £1.2m project and involved the creation of a dedicated children’s unit, as well as a complete redesign of the emergency department.

The children’s centre now has its own separate waiting and treatment area with five private cubicles.

The major revamp means they no longer have to wait alongside injured adults on Friday and Saturday nights, in an often cramped waiting room, with harsh lighting and clinical surroundings during an especially upsetting time.

The adult waiting area was also refurbished and now boasts new seating, a TV screen and refreshments.

Consultant in emergency medicine, Rana Nag, said: “Having a separate children’s unit makes it safer. If you imagine on a Friday or Saturday night there are drunks and disorderly adults and it’s much nicer for them to be separated from the adult side.

“For the adults, we have increased capacity and there are now 16 cubicles, which is six more cubicles. And it has increased efficiency. We’ve increased the number of cubicles under direct vision of staff due to the way the staff area has been designed.”

Swindon pupils’ artwork was also selected to decorate the walls of the children’s unit and reproduced on a much bigger scale by professionals in the corridors, cubicles and waiting area.

To pay for little extras to put young patients at ease the Adver launched the Making it Better appeal which raised £20,850 alongside other donations from the local Lions and Rotary groups towards toys, a television and refreshment stand.

“When we initiated the project it started with the paediatrics ED but we then looked at refurbishing the whole department,” said Maria Moore, GWH deputy chief executive and director of finance. “From the planning stage, including the design and concept, it took us a little over two years.

“We have added toys, screens and we had artists paint the children’s paintings and it’s all come from fundraising. It makes it less clinical for the children.

“For the adults, the whole area has changed, the sitting area faces a TV rather than the reception desk. It also allows easy wheelchair access. It is more functional and it means that it gives staff a better environment to treat the increased number of patients.”

Since its unofficial opening in January the children’s unit and adult department have made a tremendous difference for both staff and patients.

Annette Baskerville, clinical matron, added: “The feedback we have received from parents has been extremely positive. To have a bespoke area for children has been absolutely ideal. It’s not a clinical environment and it’s fun now thanks to the fundraising from everybody, including Adver readers. We have a television now and great toys.”