Staring at the grubby exterior of Birmingham Children's Hospital's A&E centre, a sight all too familiar to Matthew Engel, it is easy to see why parents – and staff – feel let down by this environment.
Above the grey and dated ambulance bay sits Ward 15, one of several oncology wards where his son Laurie was a frequent visitor between April 2004 and September 2005.
Subject to planning approval, a new #2 million state-of-the-art unit will be offering a teenage-friendly unit for up to six patients, complete with chill zones, more privacy and a space-age 'wall' equipped with gaming consoles and MP3 players, by December 2007.
Mr Engel, who lives in Bacton, Herefordshire, noticed while Laurie underwent intensive rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy that adolescent patients were either treated alongside younger children or put on adult cancer wards "sometimes with geriatrics".
"The staff at Birmingham Children's Hospital have a world class reputation but that is done down by the facilities they have to work with. It's a cheap and nasty unit built 15 years ago when investment in the NHS was scant," he said.
"There's no consolation in this but I know Laurie would be proud of what's happening, it's something he will have achieved, this will be his achievement.
"The idea is this unit shouldn't feel like a hospital. These kids will be in and out of hospital for years, they could be spending their teenage years in and out of places like Ward 15, while their friends are busy living their lives."
Laurie was just 11 when, in February 2004, he went to hospital to have an abscess removed from his bottom, but afterwards the pain would not abate. Within two months he developed a swelling round his groin and on April 20, 2004, doctors confirmed it was a tumour. His cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma alveolar, was so rare that it was not picked up by his GP or even the surgeon who operated on him in Hereford.
Mr Engel, a renowned national sports journalist, added: "If a biopsy of his abcess had been taken ten weeks earlier, it is possible the cancer could've been picked up earlier, but I'm not sure that would've saved him because this cancer was such a brute.
"There was nothing to indicate he was ill, the worst thing he'd ever had was athlete's foot, but we met a lot of families with kids just like Laurie. Unfortunately that's what happens."
Over the next 12 months Laurie received high-dose chemotherapy at Birmingham Children's Hospital, followed by prolonged radiotherapy at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Edgbaston.
Despite receiving the best possible care, he died at home, lying next to his father, on September 22, 2005. He was only 13.
By now the way in which young adults and teenagers were treated in hospital had begun to grate on his father and mother Hilary.
Mr Engel said: "All too often they are either put in with the infants or sometimes with geriatrics. These kids are sick teenagers but they don't want to be treated like sick people, they want to be treated like teenagers.
"However I have no gripe with the staff at the Children's Hospital, they did their best. If I have any gripe it's with God."
A collection was taken at a celebration of Laurie's life and soon it reached #10,000. Since then the couple have raised more than #400,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust unit.
It will be built off-site to a bespoke design and, when ready, will take a day or two to be craned into place above the hospital's A&E entrance. Mr Engel added: "There's a real sense of excitement among staff about the possibilities this development presents."
For more information about or to make a donation to the Laurie Engel Fund visit www.laurieengelfund.org, email tctlaurie.@aol.com or write to TCT Laurie Engel Fund, Fair Oak, Bacton, Herefordshire, HR2 0AT.
For more details about the Teenage Cancer Trust and its work visit www.teenagecancertrust.org or call 0207 387 1000.