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A visit to Sweden

Building a new children’s hospital is all about listening and learning, from children and families, the staff that care for them, and other hospitals, here and overseas.

A group of people
Members of Cambridge Children's team at Queen Silvia's in Gothenburg

Visiting the hospitals in Sweden made us all pause and reflect.

Amanda Halliday, Coproduction Champion

Visiting other children's hospitals presents us with a wealth of opportunity, challenging our thinking and giving us a fresh perspective on both hospital design and clinical care.

Our project team visited two new hospitals in Sweden: Queen Silvia's Children's Hospital in Gothenburg and Södra Älvsborg Psychiatric Clinic in Borås. Both were designed by White Arkitekter, one of the companies within our design team.

Our clinical lead Rob Heuschkel said: “Visiting the two hospitals was a brilliant learning experience for the Cambridge Children’s Hospital team."

The packed schedule at Queen Silvia's gave the team access to school and play therapy, surgery wards, PICU, staff areas, operating theatres, and rehabilitation.

Coproduction Champion Amanda Halliday said the commitment to family really shone through.

“Every patient room has two parent beds, one of which rises up to the level of the child," she explained. "This would allow the child or young person to be comforted easily by their parent, plus the benefit of having both parents or a sibling on site, if they wish.

“There were kitchens on the wards for families to prepare and cook meals whilst their children were in hospital. Patients could borrow books from the library, as well as pictures for their rooms, and there was a play area available for patients and siblings.

Queen Silvia's had an extraordinary calm about it

Rob Heuschkel, Clinical lead, Cambridge Children's Hospital project
A child's hospital room A reception area in a children's hospital
A child's hospital room
A hospital bedroom at Queen Silvia's
A reception area in a children's hospital
A reception area

"At Queen Silvia's there were excellent facilities for staff rest and conversation, something we would like to bring into our new hospital," said Rob, "However, the mental health provision felt disjointed from other services, which drummed through to us the importance of our vision. Supporting a patient’s mental and physical health together will lead to better outcomes and less stigma. The Whole Child approach is very much needed.”

On day two of their whirlwind trip, the team visited the Södra Älvsborg Psychiatric Clinic. This is predominantly an adult mental health facility, but also has a 10 bedded child and adolescent unit.

A room with wallpaper that looks like a forest
The design of Södra Älvsborg Psychiatric Clinic has links to nature

We had such a warm welcome and a seamless visit from the hospital representatives and White Arkitekter team

Vicky Amiss-Smith, clinical lead nurse

The information and highlights gathered from the visit will be shared with the wider project team.

Vicky Amiss-Smith, one of our clinical lead nurses, who helped organise the trip, thanked the hosts in Sweden.

"It was a privilege to be allowed into the clinical services and for the teams in Sweden to give up their time to answer our questions about moving into a new build, the project and design journey, their learning and their top tips for our hospital. We are so fortunate to be working with great people who really support the vision of Cambridge Children's Hospital."