City's £100m hospital gets ready to open

FROM the outside it looks like a sleek new hotel with a sweeping driveway and impressive glass awning above wide sliding doors.

Inside, it is easy to picture guests with their suitcases checking in at the large reception desk in the corner of a soaring entrance hall bathed in natural light before they are swept upstairs on an escalator.

But this is no hotel.

This is the £100million replacement for the Victoria Infirmary in the South Side of Glasgow one of the largest hospitals in Scotland.

The Evening Times was given an exclusive tour of The New Victoria, a dramatic building which each year will treat around 400,000 patients.

Work on the state-of-the-art hospital started in December 2006 and was completed on time and on budget by contractor Balfour Beattie.

No mean feat as the same contractor was also responsible for the new £100m Stobhill Hospital in the north of the city. That is due to open next month.

Karen Connelly is NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's commissioning manager for The New Victoria.

She has spent more than two years looking at every aspect of the new building and is understandably proud of what has been achieved.

Attention has been paid to even the smallest details to ensure the time spent in the new hospital is as pleasant as possible for patients and staff.

For example, the large picture window in the room where patients will undergo dialysis is positioned low enough to allow views out during treatment.

Half of the 60 rooms have a single bed with an en-suite wet room and a television is provided free of charge.

The remaining rooms have four beds but are unusually spacious and comfortable.

Bright glass panels in the windows let coloured light flood the pure white walls of the main entrance and pendulum lights hanging from the ceiling turn on gradually as the sun dims.

In the eight hi-tech operating theatres, surgeons can switch on taps with a wave of their hand and check vital patient information on space-age technology.

Karen laughed: "With this hospital we have skipped the 20th century and gone from the 19th to the 21st century."

Certainly the old Victoria Infirmary, which is just yards from the new building, looks light years away from its younger and smarter sister.

Many of the 700 staff have already been given a guided tour and claim they can't wait to move into their new surroundings.

They will arrive on June 1, the first patient will follow on June 8 and by June 22 The New Victoria Hospital will be fully operational.

The two hospitals are likely to work in tandem until around 2015 when the replacement Southern General is due to open its doors.

The new Victoria has no accident and emergency unit - a decision which has not met with agreement from many local people - but will have an minor injuries clinic for the "walking wounded" which will operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

It and Stobhill will both provide a wide range of outpatient clinics, day surgery and diagnostic services as well as specialist health services such as cardiology and gynaecology.

A health board spokesman said: "The New Victoria Hospital's purpose is to introduce a revolutionary approach to meeting the needs of patients undergoing everything from one-off investigations to regular, ongoing appointments.

"Its modern treatment rooms, advanced surgery theatres and fresh, comfortable waiting areas will totally change the experience of patients for the better."

The new Stobhill Hospital, which opens on May 11, is also expected to treat 400,000 patients a year from the North and East of Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire and further afield.

The spokesman said: "As medicine has progressed and hospital care changed in the 21st century, the new Stobhill promises to have an exciting future as it once again transforms to take on new roles serving local communities for even more decades." The bright, spacious and airy the reception area provides easy access to hospital wings for patients and visitors The uncluttered four-bed wards are easily kept tidy A splash of colour greets those who take the escalator Now you can tour health facilities

BOTH new Glasgow hospitals are offering the public guided tours before patients start to arrive.

These buildings are in the process of being fitted out but NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are inviting the public to have a look around.

Anyone interested must register in advance and visitors will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The special tours introducing the new Stobhill to the local community will take place on Saturday April 25 while the Victoria will open its doors on Saturday May 16.

Tours will leave every 15 minutes between 10am and 3pm and will each take around 45 minutes.

Director of facilities, Alex McIntyre said: "A number of measures have been taken to familiarise the public about how to use their new hospitals.

"These include an essential guide about how to make best use of each hospital and these will be distributed to households.

"There will also be credit card-sized patient information brochures on how to use the minor injuries units."

To book a place call 0800 0277246.