A Royal virtual visit to Leeds Children's Hospital

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex met young patients and staff in a virtual visit to Leeds to hear about the exciting plans for a new specialist hospital for children and young people in the city.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 11:50 am
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 2:56 pm
Leeds Children's Hospital patient Hannah Firbank

The new purpose-built home for Leeds Children’s Hospital and a new state-of-the-art hospital for adults are being built by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust covering more than 94,000 square metres at Leeds General Infirmary.

The new hospitals are planned to be completed in 2025.

Her Royal Highness, who is patron of Leeds Children’s Hospital, spoke to children and parents on a video call to hear their ideas on what they would like to see in the new hospital.

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Some of those children took part in a daring designers competition last summer to showcase their designs, including one of the winners, eight-year-old Violet from York.

Violet's ideas included see-through wall panels to allow social interaction between children in isolation rooms - and an investment in play specialist staff and resources to help educate and reassure young patients.

The Countess spoke to other competition winners Isla and Isaac.

Her Royal Highness also spoke to 16-year-old haemodialysis patient Hannah Firbank from Harrogate, who joined the virtual visit from the hospital.

Leeds Children's Hospital patient baby Misha

The Countess asked her about her treatment and was interested in how she was doing with her education.

Hannah had also completed a part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme the day before the visit on her 16th birthday and welcomed the opportunity to tell The Countess all about it.

DSM demolition site supervisor, Mark Neave, of Pudsey, told Her Royal Highness how the new children’s hospital means something special to him after the support he and his family received following the stillbirth of his second child and the premature birth of his son Kobi.

His daughter Taylor, who is 23 and getting married next year, was also born in the hospital.

Pictured (top left) are Dame Linda Pollard; (top right) HRH The Countess of Wessex; (below left) design competition winner Isla and (below right) Lisa Beaumont.

During the visit The Countess spoke to mum Jenner and her five-month-old baby Misha, who was in the hospital on the day receiving treatment.

The Countess also heard about the fundraising appeal by Leeds Hospitals Charity. The planned appeal will fund the latest medical equipment and support life-saving research for patients in the new Children’s Hospital.

Dame Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said she was delighted that Her Royal Highness had taken time to hear about the new hospital’s development which was making excellent progress.

“It was an honour to have The Countess of Wessex join us virtually and talk to some of the children and parents,” she said.

“We have been listening closely to what young patients and their parents have had to say about the new hospital and we’ll be taking their comments on board when we design the new facility.

“We are trailblazers here in Leeds, and this significant investment in health services for patients from Leeds and the wider region is moving forward at pace despite all the challenges we’ve faced with the COVID pandemic.

“The new Children’s Hospital will also build on Leeds’s reputation as a renowned specialist centre providing expert treatment and care for patients from across the region, the North of England and the rest of the UK.”

The Countess of Wessex thanked everyone for updating her on the new hospital development and said it was wonderful to hear some of the great ideas the children had. She said there was a real passion about what the new hospital will mean to them.

The new hospital development will also release surplus estate at Leeds General Infirmary to support a new Innovation District to help regenerate the centre of Leeds, bringing huge economic benefits for the city and wider region.

Initial funding of £600m for the project has been confirmed by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Trust continues to explore further funding options to complete the programme.

The partnership brings together Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds Beckett University, the University of Leeds, Leeds City Council and the private sector and it is predicted could deliver direct and wider economic benefits estimated to be up to £11.2bn in net present value terms - and more than 3,000 jobs.