A NEW state-of-the-art endoscopy unit has been officially opened at Dorset County Hospital.

The new ward was declared open by Dr Peter Down, who established the first endoscopy department at the old Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester in 1989, following extensive building and refurbishment work to improve the facilities for patients.

The facility will boast three new treatment rooms, recovery rooms and a new reception and waiting area as well as administration and decontamination areas.

Endoscopy senior charge nurse James Childs said: “As part of our ongoing drive to improve the patient experience, the endoscopy unit was redesigned and refurbished to ensure that the department is fit for the new challenges ahead.

“The new endoscopy suite is designed to meet standards for the environment, decontamination, clinical quality and quality of the patient experience set by the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) which certifies all endoscopy centres.

“The new unit offers greater privacy with same sex facilities in all areas where this is necessary.

“We are thrilled with the feedback from patients who have commented on how bright and welcoming the unit is.”

Consultant Dr Chris Hovell told staff, hospital bosses and guests who gathered for the opening that the new facility was a vast improvement on what the hospital had been able to offer previously and praised all those involved in making it happen, particularly nurse endoscopist Pauline Matthews.

He said: “Without her drive and enthusiasm this certainly wouldn't have started and certainly wouldn't have been delivered.”

Dr Down said that he felt privileged to be asked to open the new unit.

He said: “I'm completely overwhelmed by this amazing unit, which is a tribute to all of you.”

Dr Down unveiled a special plaque that had been donated by patient support group the Semi Colons.

He added: “I came here in 1972 and there was no real endoscopy at all.

“We started in a small way and gradually built it up.

“This is wonderful, it's state-of-the-art and magnificent and it's what you've got to have if you want to offer the service, the quality control and the developments.”

A focal point in the new waiting area will be a glass screen designed by local artist Sasha Ward, inspired by the chalky landscape of the South West and a visit to nearby Maiden Castle.