New QEII hospital

Image: Cathal Charker

[Robert Wheatley, Lifestyle Editor | Cathal Charker, News Director]

The New QEII hospital had its official opening on 6th November, by the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, the Minister of State for Community and Social care, as well as Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens.

Image: Cathal Charker

The event was attended by various NHS staff and patients including 27-year-old Phil Nicholls, a member of local group for people with learning disabilities, the Purple All Stars. Phil, along with Welwyn Garden City resident, 10-year-old Evan Taylor, helped unveil the commemorative plaque alongside the Chief Executive.

New facilities include the Urgent Care Centre, which is open 24 hours a day; outpatient services; diagnosis and day treatments; out of hour GP services and different therapy services.

UniVerse were given a tour of the new facilities, the designs were reminiscent of something you would see in a gallery or museum. Each section was sleek, modern, but perhaps most importantly, colourful and attractive.


Image: Cathal Charker

UniVerse came across Dagmar Louw, one of the Senior Sisters, who showed us the artwork on the walls. These can be seen throughout the hospital: wonderful, surrealist landscape paintings that really suit the new facilities.


Image: Cathal Charker

Image: Cathal Charker

What was also taken into consideration were the needs of young adults and children, for which a specific outpatient area was created on the second floor where they will also receive their occupational therapy or physiotherapy. While more suited to younger children, the interiors were bright and cheerful.

Image: Cathal Charker

The new hospital’s design was a result of a competition between architects. The winners, Penoyre & Presade, have also designed other health facilities, their design was chosen for its accessibility and inspirational design.

Image: Cathal Charker

UniVerse asked director Tony Fowles of Assemble, the company who employed the architect and leases the building, why this design was chosen:

“It was more on their understanding of how the pathways would work, as an architect, and how the whole thing would actually work as a patient inside a building.

Image: Robert Wheatley

“… there’s a lot of glass, it’s very bright inside so you’ve got a lot of natural lighting; and it’s naturally ventilated which is quite important these days, so you don’t get the issues with air conditioning in a stale environment.”

Image: Cathal Charker

The Purple All Stars group also took part in the opening of the hospital, performing three of their musical numbers, one asking for those with learning difficulties to get what they need from health professionals, and another which corrects our presumptions about hand washing to ensure this is done correctly. They use the acronym T.E.A.C.H. to help present this: ‘T’ standing for timing, meaning more time should be given; ‘E’ for environment, for accessible settings; ‘A’ is for attitude, meaning the attitude towards those with a learning disability; ‘C’ referring to communication, and the different ways one may wish to do so; and ‘H’ for help, to ensure that ultimately, they are getting the help they need.

Image: Cathal Charker

After the performances, UniVerse spoke to Kate Harding, a Creative Care Practitioner with the Health Liaison Team. Kate’s role as a nurse is to support people with learning difficulties when they access health settings, to make sure reasonable adjustments are made.

She said: “It’s important to know about reasonable adjustments if they [NHS staff] work within that health setting, and so that’s why we’ve been invited here today to talk about reasonable adjustments and the T.E.A.C.H. acronym.”

“… It’s just about making people aware that people with learning disabilities may need extra help and may need extra things put in place for them.”

The opening ceremony finished with a speech from the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP who spoke of the New QEII’s benefits for local residents, praised those behind the new facilities and finally declared the hospital to be “well and truly open”. Senior Sister Dagmar Louw then presented him with a framed version of one of her paintings, as a gift from staff.

Photo credit: Cathal Charker

After the ceremony, UniVerse was able to catch up with former Councillor of Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, who also influenced the New QEII’s design.

He said: “I was keen to see community use; I was keen to see some relationship, some interface with the community whereas previously the old QEII, under the old regulations of the NHS, was seen to be there as a big building… there was a definite thrust to make sure that there was continuing dialogue with the community.”

When asked his opinion on whether he thought the design would be beneficial to patients, he said:

“I’ve been here two or three times as a patient, and I’ve found that the impression you get on coming away is that it’s bright, it’s airy, it’s cheerful; and I must say this has had an effect on staff as well, as they feel themselves to be happier.”

More information including New QEII’s opening times, what facilities it has, and what campaigns are currently running under the NHS to help improve your health can be found on its website at

#Hospital #QEII

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