�650m new Royal London launches today

The East End embarked on a fresh chapter in healthcare today when it officially opened its �650million new hospital.

More than 100 departments have now moved into the new Royal London hospital, behind the old building in Whitechapel Road.

Occupying an area equivalent to 40 football pitches, the new hospital is far larger than its 18th century predecessor, with en-suite single rooms making up more than 40 per cent of ward accommodation.

In contrast to the divided layout of the former site, departments are also linked for the first time and the building has its own children’s hospital over three floors, a much larger A&E department with dedicated CT scanners and a maternity unit with two operating theatres.

Its 26 theatres are also a third larger and house surgical machinery and equipment that is among the most sophisticated on the market.

A new helipad for charity London’s Air Ambulance is above the hospital’s 17 storeys.

Dr Steve Ryan, medical director for Barts and the London NHS trust, said: “This hospital has been ten generations in the making, if you like. One of the key things was to get clinical staff involved in the design. It’s a much safer place.”

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To mark the launch, Vital Arts, Barts and the London’s arts charity, has organised a month of events.

Dance performances, orchestras, poetry and children’s activities will take place in waiting areas and wards across departments.

This is part of a new initiative offering more holistic therapies to speed up patient recovery.

Funding for the building has come as part of a �billion private finance initiative which the hospital will pay back over 42 years.

The deal has attracted criticism as Barts and the London NHS trust will end up paying around five times the amount owed.

But the trust said almost half the costs will go towards on-going essential services such as cleaning, catering and patient transport, which are unavoidable.

Dr Ryan said: “When you buy a house you take a mortgage out and consider whether the investment is worth it. It’s the same here and we believe it is worth it.

“The investment will have an amazing effect on the health of people in east London.”

One and a half floors in the new building are not yet in operation but the medical chief said they will be used if future demands require it.

Dr Ryan added: “We agreed several years ago we wouldn’t need that space but we if we do come to need it, we have the ability to open it up.”