Work has started on a new £37.5 million world-class cancer and rare diseases centre at a Birmingham hospital.

A ceremony saw two special guests Caden Robb and Sebastian Whatton, aged six, dig up the soil with their own spades at Birmingham Children’s Hospital to mark the occasion.

It is due to open in late 2017 and will house three new operating theatre.

The youngsters are both patients at the hospital.

Caden, from Kidderminster, suffers from the rare condition Urethral Atreisa, and has undergone a kidney transplant, whilst Sutton Coldfield-born Sebastian, is being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

The hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer, Michelle McLoughlin was also on hand to kick-start the works into action.

Michelle said: “Children like Caden and Sebastian are our inspiration for our new £37.5million clinical building – the largest single investment we’ve ever made to our hospital site. It was my privilege to be able to officially start the works with them.

“We know that our dedicated teams offer world-class care to our children and young people each and every day. This new building will mean that care will be given from world-class facilities too, which will make a huge difference.”

The new block, which will link to the hospital’s iconic Victorian building, will boast many features including single en-suite rooms, play areas and a common room for teenage cancer patients. The ground floor will have a bright and airy courtyard, café, breastfeeding room and chill out space for patients and families.

The hospital’s Young Person’s Advisory Group has worked closely with the project team throughout the design process and their feedback has helped with themes for the building externally and the internal colour schemes, which takes inspiration from nature, including the city’s famous canals.

An art installation representing cascading water, made from an array of colours, will be an eye-catching feature of the main entrance.

Each year around 1,700 children are diagnosed with cancer, with more than 250 of these young people treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

The new cancer centre, funded by the successful £4million Children’s Cancer Centre Appeal, will combine oncology inpatient and outpatient care at the hospital in the same place for the first time.

The block will be built on the site of the former hospital car park, demolished in 2015. Drop-off spaces and a dedicated ambulance bay directly outside the entrance on Whittall Street will be incorporated into the plans to facilitate easy access for patients and visitors.

Should the hospital make a decision to move to another site over the next ten years, following the planned merger with Birmingham Women’s Hospital, the nature of the building’s design will allow it to remain as a standalone healthcare facility.

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