Basildon hospital opens specialist children's A&E unit

One of the children's A&E cubicles at Basildon Hospital
Image caption The cubicles have been designed to be more child-friendly than regular A&E units

The first purpose-built children's accident and emergency (A&E) unit in Essex has been officially opened.

The new ward at Basildon University Hospital has been created as part of a £17m expansion of its A&E department.

The unit will be staffed by specialist children's doctors and nurses and has separate waiting rooms and cubicles.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Birgit Van Meijgaarden said: "A&E can be a very frightening place, so it's important to have an environment that is calm."

'Manage anxiety'

Dr van Meijgaarden said that a completely different approach was needed when dealing with children at A&E.

"Children are obviously very different from adults and they tend to get very different problems," she said.

"It's also very different to manage their stress, their anxiety, their worries and also the parent's worries."

An appeal raised £100,000 to pay for toys and other equipment, such as projectors and coloured lighting, for the unit.

These are designed to "distract" the young patients and their siblings during procedures.

The hospital's new A&E is expected to be fully complete by the summer.

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