Evelina London celebrates patient involvement in new Children's Day Surgery Unit

Last updated: Friday, 28 July 2023

Children's models

Ella, 9, with her astronaut school artwork in front of the mural in the new unit.

Evelina London welcomed families to a special space-themed event ahead of the opening of the new Children’s Day Surgery Unit.

The state-of-the-art facility, situated next to Evelina London Children’s Hospital, is housed in the new Children's Day Treatment Centre. With two new operating theatres, it is designed especially for children needing surgery who don’t need to stay overnight and will help treat up to an additional 2,300 children each year. Families will also wait less on the day of surgery, as pre-surgery checks, the operation, recovery and preparation for going home can all be done in one place, in one day.

Children, young people and families who supported the planning of the new centre attended a preview event to get a first look inside, ahead of patients being treated. Designed with children and families in mind, an outer-space theme was chosen in collaboration with staff and patients to match the natural world theme of Evelina London’s main hospital building.

Several of the children who attended the event had taken part in Evelina London’s competition to design space-themed artwork for the new centre, and got to see how their work had been reimagined by Japanese artist Kiriko Kubo, who has designed the award-winning artwork in Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

Ella, age 9 from Gipsy Hill designed an astronaut school which now features in the main entrance, whilst Aimee, age 11 from Peckham, created a drawing of Mary Jackson, the first Black female aerospace engineer to work at NASA. This was interpreted in one of the anaesthetic rooms.

Ella’s design was inspired by her father, Piers, who was treated for brain cancer at Guy's Hospital before he died in 2021. Ella said: “We always say daddy has gone to the moon, so I wanted to make something that would help me reach the moon. I also thought it would be fun for other children.”

Ella’s mum, Laura Moth, said: “I’m so proud of Ella - she’s had a really tough time since she lost her dad but creating the artwork really made her remember the happy times we shared together and think about what we would say if we could visit him, as we like to say he is on the moon. It was amazing to see the art work come to life and meet so many people involved in creating such a fabulous space. We learnt so much about space and Ella has now set her sights on becoming an astronaut!!”

The space theme was elevated by the attendance of the UK Space Agency and experts in the space field to educate and inspire the young people. Children met Dr Meganne Christian, a reserve astronaut, heard from the team leading on the Mars Rover mission, and met astronomers from the Royal Observatory Greenwich. They also saw images taken by a renowned space photographer and tried on astronaut helmets.

Liz O'Sullivan, Head of Arts at Guy's and St Thomas', said: "The art scheme at the new Children’s Day Surgery Unit is an amazing example of what can be achieved when we all work together. Young people and their families working with the patient engagement team told us what the best qualities of a really big day out mean to them.  Our nursing, medical and play teams told us how we can help inform, reduce anxiety and inspire young people and their families whilst in our care. Our architects, project managers and construction teams worked to find innovative and cost efficient solutions to realise the design aspirations. Evelina London Children's Charity enabled this vision to be built through their generosity. And our art consultants, Art in Site, alongside lead artist, Kiriko Kubo, have created what will undoubtedly be an award-worthy art programme."

"What you will see in the new building is the product of imagination, inspiration and teamwork. I am very proud to have been part of it and hope our families and young people will feel looked after the second they walk into the unit."

James O’Brien, Director of Operations and Improvement at Evelina London, said: We were delighted to welcome children and families who helped us develop the centre to get a first look inside. It was great to see how some of their wonderful designs have influenced the interior.

“Making the Children’s Day Treatment Centre a fun and family-friendly environment for our patients and families was a key part of the design for us, as we know visiting hospital can be stressful. The look on the children’s faces when they enter the building makes it clear how special the facility is and how different from what many people would expect when entering a ‘hospital’.”

“I'd also like to say a huge thank you to the UK Space Agency, Royal Observatory Greenwich, and all the space experts who made this event extra-terrestrial. It’s important to us as a dedicated children’s hospital that in addition to providing excellent clinical care, we support children to continue with their education and have enjoyable and memorable experiences with their families, such as giving them the opportunity to engage with such inspirational people."

Find out more about the Children's Day Surgery Unit.

Children's models

Children at the UK Space Agency event stall (left). Aimee holding her artwork and artist Kiriko Kubo in front of the Mary Jackson art feature (right).

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