HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh Visits Leeds Children’s Hospital

Staff and patients at Leeds Children’s Hospital are delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Edinburgh to Ward L52 on Wednesday 20 March. This is the Royal Patron’s first visit as Duchess of Edinburgh and her first in-person visit to Leeds Children’s Hospital since before the pandemic.

Ward L52 is the dedicated Paediatric Neurosciences Ward at Leeds Children’s Hospital that sees more than 350 patients each year. It is a specialist unit caring for children and young people requiring neurosurgical and neurological care and expertise from across the region and as far afield as London, Manchester and Newcastle. The ward is staffed by specialist paediatric nurses, doctors, and support workers with many years of experience and specialist knowledge.

Children on this ward might have brain and spine tumours, be treated for epilepsy or fluid on the brain and because of the long-term nature of their conditions, have some of the longest stays in hospital. 

Leeds Children’s Hospital is pioneering the use of Virtual Reality Distraction Therapy (VRDT) and with funding from Leeds Hospitals Charity, employs the UK’s first hospital-based Virtual Reality (VR) Play Specialist. Using VR technology, staff support patients through procedures that might include cannulations, dressing changes and even minor surgery. More than 350 appointments using VRDT have been delivered in the last 12 months and other children’s hospitals nationally and internationally are following the example set by Leeds.

During the visit, Her Royal Highness is meeting with hospital Play Specialists and seeing a demonstration of the innovative VRDT techniques they use. These are proving extremely successful in supporting children and their families with their treatment, often resulting in shorter stays in hospital and a more positive hospital experience.

Since her last visit, the Government has confirmed the Trust’s plan to build a new state-of-the-art hospital will be fully funded and can proceed. The scheme, to build a new home for Leeds Children’s Hospital, a new adults’ hospital and one of the largest single-site maternity and neonatal centres in the country at the Leeds General Infirmary by 2030, is part of the Government’s national New Hospital Programme.  

Leeds Hospitals Charity, the charity for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, provided more than £3.7m to Leeds Children’s Hospital over the past year, investing £2.6 million in a ground-breaking research project to reduce health inequalities for young patients, as well as providing specialist equipment for children with sensory disabilities to engage in therapeutic play.

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