Health minister Steve Brine visited Southampton's teaching hospitals yesterday, to mark reaching the first £1 million of fundraised money in the campaign for a new children's emergency and trauma department.
The milestone will now unlock the second £500,000 instalment of government funding to take the overall total to £2 million and enable building work on the £4.8 million development at Southampton Children's Hospital to commence.
The new facility, which is expected to see more than 30,000 youngsters every year from across the south of England, will include a state-of-the-art eight-bed observation area, 11 glass-fronted and sound proof cubicles and on-hand x-ray facilities.
To help fund the project, Winchester and Chandler's Ford MP Mr Brine spearheaded a drive with neighbouring MPs to help secure £2 million from then-chancellor George Osborne to be matched with £2 million in fundraising through Southampton Hospital Charity and The Murray Parish Trust<http://www.themurrayparishtrust.com/>.
The total will be met with a further £800,000 allocated by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
As part of his visit, Mr Brine also met UHS chief executive Fiona Dalton before taking in various cancer services at Southampton General Hospital, including the Macmillan acute oncology and chemotherapy units, with Alison Keen, head of cancer nursing.
He then headed to LifeLab, a state-of-the-art laboratory dedicated to improving health and lifestyle education among school pupils and students in the city, with programme manager Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend.
"I was delighted to visit UHS in the week of such an important milestone in the children's emergency and trauma department appeal, a development I am extremely excited and passionate about," said Mr Brine, who is parliamentary under secretary of state for public health and primary care.
"To also have the opportunity to find out more about Southampton's excellent oncology service and the innovative LifeLab educational facility demonstrates the breadth of work that is undertaken at the trust."
Ms Dalton added: "We were pleased to welcome Mr Brine to find out more about our work in a variety of areas, as well as mark this amazing fundraising achievement in the children's ED campaign with him following the support he has given us."
James Murray, founder of The Murray Parish Trust, said: ''We are delighted to have reached the half-way mark in this appeal and are extremely grateful for all the support on the journey so far.
"We hope the momentum continues for the final million so that children of the south can benefit from the care and expertise of this pioneering service.''
For more information on the children's emergency and trauma department appeal, visit www.southamptonhospitalcharity.org/appeals<http://www.southamptonhospitalcharity.org/appeals>.