SUNDERLAND received another helping of Royalty as the Countess of Wessex opened a state-of-the-art mental health hospital.
HRH Sophie Wessex visited the £50million Hopewood Park Hospital in Ryhope, where she viewed the facilities and met with staff and patients.
She also chatted to those who were crucial to its planning and implementation, including builders, architects and partners, along with artist Dan Savage, who has created artworks for the hospital.
St Paul’s Primary School pupil Roman Gilley, nine, presented the Countess with a bouquet of flowers.
“It is so important that the people who have mental health problems can come to a place where they can very clearly see people care and mind about them when they walk through the doors,” the countess said before unveiling a plaque in the reception area.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said of her visit: “It’s fantastic to have her here and it brings focus to the city and the region and she is such a lovely person as well.”
“The new facility is fantastic. We have had a long and torturous journey to get here but nonetheless worthy of the city and the wider region.”
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust chairman Hugh Morgan Williams said: “We are all excited to welcome Her Royal Highness to Hopewood Park and to give her the opportunity not only to see our new development, but meet our dedicated staff and learn about the specialist services we provide.”
Built on the site of the former Ryhope General Hospital, Hopewood Park replaces the old Cherry Knowle Hospital and South Tyneside General Hospital’s mental health wards. It will also look after patients who have complex on-going needs and require rehabilitation services and includes a 14-bed psychiatric intensive care unit.
The £50million building also has a new central facilities building called The Barton Centre, featuring a range of other services such as a cafe, mental health act tribunal offices, a faith centre, a physical treatment suite, pharmacy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and exercise therapy.
The trust worked with construction partner Laing O’Rourke on Hopewood Park and the building was designed by Medical Architecture.