Thank you to those families who attended the first two
engagement events on Thursday 27 January and Monday 30 January
regarding the move of the baby memorial garden at the University
Hospital of North Durham.
The meetings were held to share more on the Trust's plans to
extend the emergency department which involves the need to
therefore move the current baby memorial garden and to listen to
the views of families who have plaques and other memorabilia in the
current garden in remembrance of their lost children.
The Trust fully appreciates the sensitive nature of this project
and the emotions involved with the move. It is committed to working
with families to understand how the move can be made in the most
compassionate way and to understand what can be done in the new
space to make that as comfortable as possible for families.
The current emergency department is caring for double the number
of patients it was built to accommodate. The waiting area was built
to accommodate 40 people, this number is regularly as high as 100
and sometimes as many as 120.
The site does not allow for any other options to extend the
department other than to come out from the front of the existing
building. This area currently includes the grade 2 listed building
'dryburn house'. Planning permission has been granted but only if
the Trust employs specialist contractors to demolish dryburn house.
The Trust is also in discussion with Beamish Museum about how the
historic building could be captured and displayed.
Behind dryburn house there is also a long narrow building known
as the east wing corridor. This building is in an increasing state
of disrepair and the lower half of the building is already vacant
without the possibility of being useable again in the future. This
building would also be demolished as part of the emergency
The demolition of this building is scheduled to begin in April.
To prepare the site safely for the start of these works, hoardings
will start to be erected from the beginning of March. These will
need to go up around the area including the current baby memorial
The Trust wishes to engage with families, in the first instance,
over the coming 4 - 6 weeks to compassionately support the
transition to the new garden and then in the longer term discuss
arrangement for a 'friends of group' or a 'trustee group' to help
maintain the new garden in the future.
At the engagement meetings, the Trust acknowledged that
communication leading up the events and about the move could have
been better and will work on improving this moving forward.
Through the two events and an online survey, a number of common
themes and ideas are emerging:
Where is the new garden
The new garden will be located in the current 'woodland walk'
area on the hospital site. It is located adjacent to the Trust car
parking reception and headquarters building at the far end of the
patient and public car park.
A secure site is important
The new garden will be locked and fully enclosed.
More accessible (if it is padlock and key - not to have to get
this from A&E reception)
If the new garden is created 'like for like' with a padlock and
key - the new key would be available from the security team in the
Trust HQ not A&E. However, alternative solutions will be
The space needs to be well lit
Lighting will be installed into the new garden
The new area is not accessible
The Trust will work with contractors to investigate improvement
works to the pathway access to the new garden. In addition the
trust will proved a dedicated road crossing and pedestrian path to
The new area is noisy
Fences can be heightened and additional shrubbery or trees added
to help shield some of the noise
Could an alternative site be found
We have considered any other possible options and none of these
have been practical to take forward. The woodland walk site is the
only viable option at this time.
I don't want to move my baby's plaque and memorabilia to the new
We respect your decision. We will have a specialist contractor
available in the current garden on the current dates, when we can
support you to remove your plaque and memorabilia to take away with
you. If at a later date you have a change of heart and would like
to place your plaque the new garden, we will support you to do
I would like to move my baby's plaque and memorabilia myself to
the new space
We will support you to do this. We will have a specialist
contractor to help with the physical move of the plaque and are
organising further arrangements to share with families who wish to
be involved soon.
How will the plaques and memorabilia be moved
Specialist contractors will support the move by removing the
wood panelling that holds the plaques and relocate. As a whole -
where that is not possible the contractor will relocate the plaque
as well as the back timber and remount in the new location We
will photograph the current sites so that all memorabilia is
captured together with the plaques and can be relocated together in
the new garden. If we are not able to move the plaques and
memorabilia straight away into the new space we will store these
securely and sensitively until they can be put in place.
When will the move take place
We would like to begin the move towards the end of February. The
current garden will still be accessible while the hoardings are in
place, we are conscious however that access will not be as easy and
there will be increased noise. We will inform all families of a
final date for the current garden when this is known.
How will you move the ashes
We have again commissioned specialist contractors, together with
the support, of an undertaker to advise on the move and oversee it.
The recommendation which we will deliver is that we lift 9 inches
of the garden from the current garden to move to the new site.
If you have a plaque and memorabilia in the current
garden for your lost child, please consider becoming involved in
the following ways:
1. We will be holding more engagement events to listen to your
views. The next event will be a virtual event on Friday 10 February
between 12 noon - 1pm. Please register for a place and to receive
the link by contacting our Patient Experience Manager: email@example.com or 0800
2. Register your details with our patient experience team to
inform us whether you would like to move your plaque to the new
garden and if you have any special requests for this, for example
if you would like to be present when it is moved or if you would
like to choose the location in the new garden (if you have attended
an event and already shared your preferences there is no need to do
3. You can share your views through an online survey:
If you have any other queries or comments then please
contact the Trust's Patient Experience Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800
Published: 01 February 2023
'Every aspect of my emergency care was dealt with quickly,
efficiently and professionally with full explanations and
compassion from all staff involved'.
Patient, Emergency Department, Darlington Memorial Hospital