It is Britain’s biggest new hospital and the first in Birmingham for the past 70 years.
And today the city’s long-awaited £2.6 billion superhospital – the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QE) – opened its doors for the first time.
The ageing casualty department at the Victorian Selly Oak Hospital closed for the final time at 2am on Wednesday morning.
It has handed over to medics at the QE’s shiny new A&E, just over a mile away in Edgbaston in the first stage of a 16-month move.
Over the coming three days, 500 patients in wards at Selly Oak will be transferred into the 1,213 bed hospital to replace Selly Oak and the current QE hospitals.
Other departments will gradually transfer from the older QE in later stages until the super hospital is fully up and running by autumn next year and treating 650,000 people a year.
“This hospital is a legacy for the future and an important moment for Birmingham,” said Julie Moore, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust, which runs the new hospital.
“It is based on what patients need today. As a nurse, when I first started, we didn’t have MRI scanners as a routine.
“I look at the critical care unit with all its sockets and realise how much more equipment is used on patients. The technology has moved so far in recent decades.
“Selly Oak was built in Victorian times and the QE in the 1930s, we have moved on generations since then. This time we are building a hospital that is future proof and can be adapted for change.”
The new QE is the second largest Private Finance Initiative (PFI) health building the NHS has ever seen.
Building work started in 2006 and although the actual cost of building the hospital was £627 million, taxpayers will pay back a bill of £2.58 billion to construction firm Balfour Beatty in a mortgage style 35 year PFI repayment scheme.
Ms Moore added that the deal was worth making for such a landmark: “We can afford the PFI and we made sure it was affordable. We have become more efficient and transferring everyone on to one site has saved us £8 million a year in running costs.”
The circular pods of the hospital are a vivid sight for miles across south Birmingham.
They feature patient rooms with views across the Lickey Hills, futuristic-looking suspended equipment in the critical care wards and vacuum machines to suck blood samples and other tests direct from wards direct to laboratories.
Surgeons will work across 23 operating theatres, plus there will be seven more for minor surgery and will have the most advanced imaging equipment available to the NHS at their fingertips.
The new military-only ward also opens within the super hospital this week as part of its partnership with the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.
Medics are on standby for any injured troops being flown back to the UK, particularly from Afghanistan.
Soldiers will be moved immediately into the state of the art ward which has no normal NHS patients plus added security, something the public has rallied for in the past three years.
Dr Javid Kayani, an A&E surgeon and the trust’s joint deputy medical director, said: “I have worked at Selly Oak Hospital for 15 years and sentimentally, it will be a loss, but care at the new hospital will be easier and better.
“It is huge and will take a while to get used to where different departments are, but there is plenty of signposting and a 3D touch machine.
“The sheer size of moving all the Selly Oak patients across in three days is unnerving, but there are extensive plans to minimise any risks.
“It will be a very different experience for the first few weeks but once staff get in their stride, I think it’s going to be second to none and the centre of state of the art care for the next century.”