Children and staff at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill gave a warm welcome to its first royal visitor in its 25-year history. Youngsters from the Sunshine Nursery joined staff outside, fittingly in the sunshine, to welcome Princess Alexandra.

The Princess was visiting the hospital last Thursday (June 14) to officially open new facilities there.

She toured the hospital’s new Endoscopy Suite, Day Surgery Unit and Charlwood and Copthorne Wards, and attended a reception where she unveiled a plaque honouring her visit.

She chatted with staff and a number of patients about their stay in the hospital.

During the reception, she was presented with a posy of roses by three-year-old Yasmin Appea, who attends the Sunshine Nursery.

She described meeting the Princess as “very exciting.”

Five-year-old Molly Rapley, daughter of Infection Control Nurse Suzanne Rapley, presented the Princess with a card she had made, welcoming her to East Surrey Hospital.

Suzanne said: “Molly was overjoyed at having the opportunity to participate in the royal occasion as she has been well and truly swept up in the festivities of the recent Jubilee.”

Michael Wilson, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs East Surrey Hospital, said: “Princess Alexandra’s visit has been an important recognition of the hard work and dedication staff have put in to ensure the success of the new wards.”

Mr Wilson said: “We are immensely proud of the improvement in patient experience that has been a direct result of our new facilities.

“I would like to thank Princess Alexandra for visiting the hospital. There was a real buzz around the hospital on the day and staff enjoyed the celebrations.”

The hospital's state-of-the-art Endoscopy Unit opened last December and has a preparation room, four admission rooms, four procedure rooms and 12 recovery beds in two single sex wards.

An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of the body is examined internally using an endoscope.

The hospital carries out some 8,000 procedures a year and the new suite boasts state-of-the-art instruments and accessories, advanced disinfection and sterilising methods, and specialist endoscopy nurses and doctors.

The 20-bed Copthorne and Charlwood wards opened in April for general surgery and digestive diseases patients respectively.

This summer, the refurbished Hazelwood ward and the hospital's new main entrance are scheduled for completion.

The new facilities are part of the Trust's £14 million redevelopment programme, which has also seen a modernised and enlarged Emergency Department and new modular ward building completed.

As well as running the East Surrey Hospital, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust provides a range of services at hospitals in Crawley, Horsham, Dorking, Caterham and the Oxted Health Centre.

East Surrey Hospital serves a growing population of 350,000 residents in East Surrey and North-east West Sussex and is the designated hospital for Gatwick Airport and the M25.

The Trust employs about 2,900 staff and has an annual budget of £187 million.

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