THE keys to the region’s brand new £430million hospital have been handed over to the NHS.

The impressive 800-bed Brunel building at Southmead Hospital will take its first patients from May 12 having been completed by contractors Carillion on time.

The building, designed with coloured zones and airport-style gate numbers for easy navigation, boasts a huge glass atrium at its centrepiece, 24 theatres and 72 medirooms for pre-operation and recovery patients on one side. The opposite side, accessed by bridges which will help keep the public away from surgical areas, will house wards with 75 per cent single occupancy en-suite rooms and other single-sex four-bedroom rooms.

Kenny Gale, matron for medicine, said: “Nursing patients in an environment like this will be second to none.

“We will be able to provide much improved nursing care because of the environment, the space and the fact that our teams will all be together. Staff cannot wait.”

Downstairs, the region’s only Emergency Department (ED) will include 14 major trauma cubicles and six resuscitation bays, a marked increase on the facilities at the current A&E department at Frenchay.

ED matron Juliette Hughes said: “Everyone is genuinely excited about working here.

“It is a beautiful department that is going to provide first class care and we still want people to think of it as their local hospital.”

A&E will close at Frenchay at 2am on Monday, May 19, immediately reopening at Southmead. Ward patients will then move from Frenchay to Southmead in a carefully planned operation and the new hospital will be fully operational by Wednesday, May 28.

Chief executive of North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs both Southmead and Frenchay hospitals, said: “This is not just exciting for us, it is exciting for the people of Bristol who use our services.

“This building belongs to them as much as us and I just think they will be completely bowled over when they see it, especially the single rooms. It is like a hotel.”

She said the whole ethos behind the hospital was centred on giving patients more privacy and dignity.

“Patients can have visitors when they want, sleep when they want, open their windows and the privacy and dignity of having your own bathroom is a huge bonus ,” she said. “The building has a lot more space and light.

“It will be leading light for medicine and act as a magnet for attracting the very best staff.”

Keith Hutton, project director for Carillion, said: “The atrium is the centrepiece but we are equally proud of the clinical areas. The whole building is incredible.

“It was a challenge but the trust knew what it wanted and hopefully we have delivered on their expectations.”

The opening of the hospital follows years of negotiations over whether greater Bristol’s main acute hospital should have been built at Frenchay or Southmead. Many of the buildings at Frenchay will now be demolished and planning permission has been granted for 490 homes on the site.

The maternity department and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) will remain in their existing buildings at Southmead and a brand new Bristol Breast Care Centre and a Macmillan Wellbeing Centre will open this summer after a redevelopment of the listed Beaufort House building.

The full order of moves is as follows:

Wednesday, May 7 – Children’s accident and emergency services at Frenchay Hospital move to Bristol Children’s Hospital along with specialist paediatric services currently based at the Barbara Russell Unit, Frenchay

Monday, May 12 – The move begins of staff, wards and services from existing premises at Southmead

Monday, May 19 at 2am – Frenchay A&E closes and immediately re-opens in the new Brunel building, Southmead

Monday, May 19 – Outpatient appointments begin in the Brunel building and the first Frenchay wards begin to move across

Wednesday, May 28 – The move is complete and all services and departments are open