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Surgeon praises child-friendly unit at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness

By Val Sweeney

Celebrating the unveiling of the plaque are NHS Highland chief executive Paul Hawkins, Mary Nimmo, George Youngson, Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael, David Sutherland and NHS Highland chairman Boyd Robertson.
Celebrating the unveiling of the plaque are NHS Highland chief executive Paul Hawkins, Mary Nimmo, George Youngson, Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael, David Sutherland and NHS Highland chairman Boyd Robertson.

A children's surgeon who was the inspiration behind the new unit for young patients at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness says it is a great credit to the region's communities.

Professor George Youngson today unveiled a plaque during a tour of the Highland Children's Unit which opened following a £2 million fundraising drive by the Archie Foundation in conjunction with the Inverness Courier.

He was instrumental in bringing the foundation to the Highlands having seen the charity's impact at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital where he was a surgeon and a member of the original fundraising board.

Although the unit opened in 2016, today's official celebrations also commemorated the ongoing partnership between the charity and NHS Highland with further developments to the outdoor space set to be completed this summer.

Thousands of children have already passed through the doors to the unit which was designed to provide a more child-centred atmosphere with its cheerful and brightly-coloured decoration, better layout and own designated entrance.

Topiary dolphins and stags are to be added to the outdoor space and a retractable cover will be fitted in the play area enabling youngsters to have fun outside in all weathers as part of the Fresh Air Project.

“Development of this unit has been an important step in providing high quality clinical care for children in the north of Scotland," Professor Youngson said.

"It has created the right place, for the right staff, to give the right care, with the right equipment and the right facilities.

"The unit is also able to support the families to, in turn, support their youngsters during their treatment.

“It has produced an environment that has been able to blend a purpose-built child-friendly space with an effective place for the clinical staff to provide high quality care in a clinically-safe manner.

"It focuses on all the needs of the child during their illness or after their injury and its development is a great credit to the communities of the Highlands, their leaders, the variety of organisations involved, but principally the people and families of the north of Scotland.”

He was joined at the ceremony by Inverness businessman David Sutherland, the foundation's former fundraising board chairman for the Highlands, who played a vital role in pushing the appeal to its £2 million target.

Also present was the present Highland board chairwoman Mary Nimmo.

“We are delighted to be here today to celebrate our amazing children’s unit and the Fresh Air Project reaching completion of its first stage," she said.

“To all of the supporters of the Archie Foundation, whether they have supported in the past or present, we are truly appreciative of all your time, generosity and hard work which was fundamental to the opening of this unit and project within the Highlands and Islands.”

The plaque in the children's unit.
The plaque in the children's unit.

David Wood, the Archie Foundation's chief executive, said he was proud to be celebrating what he described as a "fantastic" partnership between the charity and NHS Highland.

“We can’t wait to build on our relationship having helped fund the Highland Children’s Unit and our more recent Fresh Air Project," he said.

“We are working on the next steps to help ensure children and their families have the best hospital experience and ease any anxieties they may have in what can be a stressful time.

“But I’d like to thank the public who have supported us throughout our journey. We rely on our supporters to raise money for the Archie Foundation and make all of these things possible.We simply couldn't do it without them and our incredible Highland Fundraising Board.”

April Emmott, senior nurse for paediatric services, said it had been exciting to see the plans come to fruition.

“Working with the Archie Foundation has been a real collaboration starting with the initial talks about what might be possible in Highland, and through to the development and opening of the Highland Children’s Unit," she said.

"The collaboration has continued since the unit opened and it is great that this partnership will continue to benefit the patients and families that we see here."

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