A TRIP to a hospital’s accident and emergency department can be traumatic for anyone but for children, the experience is often particularly distressing.

Staff at Salisbury District Hospital do all they can to see the 9,000 young patients who come through the door each year as quickly as possible and keep them away from the most upsetting sights.

But they are restricted by space and the layout of the department.

There is currently only a tiny children’s waiting area, some clinical areas and equipment are shared with adult patients and the small children’s play area in the department is next to where ambulance staff stretcher in some of the most critically ill patients and accident victims.

Next year, work will begin on remodelling the A&E department, which provides a chance to designate specific areas for children and their families.

The NHS will be paying for the majority of the work but the Stars Appeal is looking to contribute £250,000 towards a new children’s waiting area, a dedicated children’s minor injuries and illnesses area and a new children’s resuscitation bay.

Considerably bigger than the existing facilities, the new waiting area will allow families to wait more comfortably together away from the, sometimes, highly-charged atmosphere of the main waiting room.

There will be a range of toys, a pleasant view out of the window, children’s seating and other distractions to keep youngsters amused.

“Children are often frightened of coming to an emergency department,” said A&E consultant Dr Jason Klein. “The aim is to make the child’s experience in the emergency department as pleasant as possible.”

Having a separate area where children with minor illnesses and injuries are treated will bring a number of benefits to staff and their young patients.

Children who need to be observed will be able to stay at the hospital in a more child-friendly area away from adult patients.

The new area can also be equipped with clinical equipment specifically for children, and dedicated staff will work in the children’s area throughout their shift.

Critically ill or severely injured children will have a third bay in the resuscitation area with state-of-the-art equipment.

Case study – Ellie Moulding

WHEN Ellie Moulding had a severe asthma attack at the age of eight she ended up in the resuscitation area in the A&E department.

She had collapsed and stopped breathing and the staff had to work quickly to save her life.

Ellie was put on a life support machine in the intensive care unit but thanks to the skill of the doctors and nurses at Salisbury District Hospital, she was well enough to go home after ten days.

Today, Ellie is a busy 12-year-old but she has never forgotten her time in hospital or the staff who saved her, and this year she spoke at the start of the Walk for Wards sponsored walk at Wilton House.

“I hadn’t felt well all day and by the time I went to bed, my chest started to feel very tight. The hospital told mummy to bring me in for a nebuliser, which we had done many times before and which always made me feel better,” she told the crowd.

“But once we were in the car I was unable to breathe, feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Mummy phoned the hospital again to say I had collapsed and when we got there a team of staff including the paediatric consultant were waiting outside A&E for us and carried me straight to the resuscitation room.

“The team of doctors and nurses had to work very quickly as I had stopped breathing. If the staff and doctors hadn’t been ready for me on the night of my asthma attack, I would not be standing here today.”