Last Friday, it was a real honour to attend the opening of the new state-of-the-art theatre and oncology building at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital by HRH Princess Alexandra. It was wonderful that she took the time to see for herself how this new facility will enhance an absolutely world-class institution offering world-class care by world-class staff.
She also presented the first ever Dame Agnes Hunt Nursing Medal to Sister Glenna Hardy, a Nurse Practitioner in the hospital’s Pre-Operative Assessment Unit, for her remarkable 35 years of continuous service.
Outside the new building, a statue of Percy the Peacock, who lived on the hospital grounds for 25 years, was unveiled. The statue, made of obsolete medical equipment by Luke Kite at the British Ironwork Centre, will welcome future visitors to the main entrance, as Percy did for so many years.
The award of £15.1 million for new theatres from NHS funds was thoroughly well-deserved. The Orthopaedic has established a worldwide reputation for the quality of its care and it is absolutely right that this investment will further improve health outcomes and increase capacity, as this hospital is so popular.
The Orthopaedic is a local institution in which we can all be enormously proud. Over the years I myself have also tried to help in a small way. Before I became an MP I was a member of the Orthopaedic Institute, the charity which helps to fund research in the specialist research centres and departments within the RJ & AH. My main achievement at the time was to oversee the building of the Leopold Müller Arthritis Research Centre.
Since becoming an MP, I have been involved in working with successive management teams on issues such as NHS tariffs to allow this unique hospital to prosper. A key element in guaranteeing the long-term status and success of the Orthopaedic was the campaign to get Foundation Status, which was eventually successful in August 2011. Since gaining the new found freedoms of Foundation Status, the Orthopaedic is going from strength to strength.
I have always tried to keep in close touch. In 2012, my wife and I took part in the 1,000 kilometre Mongol Derby. Thanks to the generosity of many people, we managed to raise £120,000, which we split between The Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries at the Orthopaedic and The Royal Irish Regiment Benevolent Fund.
The Orthopaedic really is a special institution. Whenever I visit, I always sense the immense pride of everyone who works there in what they do. It was wholly merited that this wonderful world-class hospital should be honoured by a royal visit last Friday.