A new children and young people’s assessment unit has opened at Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

The unit is a purpose-built space to assess children and is designed to stop them from being admitted unless absolutely necessary. Instead, young people can be assessed and treated before returning home.

Divisional manager for women’s and child health, Nicki Abbott, said: "The unit increases our capacity to further assess and treat children and young people at Queen’s.

"It works differently from a traditional inpatient ward as the intention is that children are only here for a short period of time and can be discharged earlier, at any time of the day or night.

"We also plan to undertake 'hot' clinics and weekend reviews in the dedicated outpatient space."

The unit will also play a crucial role in improving flow through the hospital.

Ms Abbott explained: "Not only will this mean that children are in hospital for less time i.e. getting them back home to their family, but it will reduce the number of patients in the emergency department and help all children to be seen more quickly and in a safe and child-friendly environment."

She added: "Thank you to the very many staff and partners involved in the creation of this unit; from the Sodexo and Estates teams to the finance team who supported the business case, Vikki Butler who helped find the space, and the nursing and play teams for their hand in some of the design and decoration."

Chief medical officer Magda Smith officially opened the new unit, cutting a ribbon to mark the moment.

Ms Smith said: "I was delighted to cut the ribbon to mark the opening of our new unit at Queen’s Hospital. I know a lot of work has gone into it so thank you to everyone involved.

"It will allow us to increase our capacity and deliver an improved children’s service. Being able to assess and treat children for a short observation period and then return them to the comfort of their home, rather than admitting them, will mean a world of difference to our patients and their families.

"Our trust’s recovery and restoration of services are hugely important. Initiatives such as our new unit is a reflection of the remarkable collaborative efforts we’re undertaking to get us where we need to be."