Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley helped to launch a major fundraising appeal to transform the Children’s Intensive Care Unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington today.
The St Mary’s Hospital More Smiles Appeal is looking to raise at least £2 million towards a £10 million project to create a bigger, state-of-the-art facility to treat the hundreds of critically ill young patients that come through its doors.
The remainder of the costs are to be funded by the Trust and Imperial College Healthcare Charity.
Actress and writer Fay, who met patients, families and staff in the unit today as part of the launch, is supporting the appeal in honour of her niece who was treated at St Mary’s Children’s Intensive Care Unit. She said: “My niece is a fit, healthy, bright and beautiful teenager. However without the extraordinary care she received a few years ago at the Children's Intensive Care Unit at St Mary's Hospital her story may well have ended differently. I am so grateful for hers and all of the happy endings to come out of the unit.”
Every year, around 400 patients are cared for in the Children’s Intensive Care Unit at St Mary’s but it also turns away hundreds more critically ill children because it does not have enough beds. This means children sometimes have to travel as far afield as Birmingham for treatment. In 2014, the unit had to turn away 233 children, more than half the number admitted.
Consultant Dr Parviz Habibi set up the St Mary’s Children’s Intensive Care Unit in 1992 with just one bed, one nurse and one consultant. Today, the eight-bedded unit treats a range of medical, surgical and trauma patients. It is a world leader in the understanding and treatment of serious infections in children including meningitis and septicaemia, as well as specialising in other life-threatening conditions such as seizures, asthma, sickle cell disease, severe injuries and helping children recover after major surgery.
He said: “Today we are taking steps to double the space we have to treat our young patients and upgrade our facilities so that they match the high quality of care we provide.”
Around 7,000 children aged from newborn to 18 year olds have been treated at St Mary’s Hospital Children’s Intensive Care Unit since it opened.
However, the once modern facility has aged and staff and patients are now in desperate need of more space, more beds and modernised facilities.
Dr Simon Nadel, Children’s Intensive Care Unit consultant and clinical lead, said: “This appeal will mean we will be able to save more lives and give better care to more critically ill children and their families. However, we cannot do this without your support.”