ST GEORGE’S Hospital has opened a ‘home away from home’ for parents whose children need long-term inpatient care.

And the house has already received its first guest.

Carly Gillard, 24, from Eastbourne in Sussex is the first parent to stay there while her six year old daughter, Nicole, receives treatment in the hospital for leukaemia.

“The house is fantastic,” says Carly.

“Spending a whole day in hospital is mentally draining. To know you can escape from that for a couple of hours is wonderful.

“It has all the little luxuries that make you feel comfortable and able to relax.

“It’s a home from home really – I love the place.”

The Ronald McDonald House cost ?800k to build and was paid for by St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Ronald McDonald Children’s Charity (Registered Charity No. 802047).

It contains eight ensuite bedrooms, a living room, TV room, children’s play room, a double kitchen, and a laundry room. Accommodation will be free.

The house is the seventh Ronald McDonald House to be built on the site of a UK hospital. There are already houses at Guy’s Hospital, Alder Hay Children’s Hospital, King’s College Hospital, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow and Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Brighton.

Dr Sarah Thurlbeck, a consultant paediatrician and a Trustee of the charity that is running the house, says:

“St George’s offers advanced and highly specialist treatment for children from across London and the South East of England. Despite feeling in safe hands, the experience of having an ill child is very stressful.

“Unfortunately, our central location often means travelling can be difficult and expensive for parents. Parents spend much of their time by their child’s bedside. The house will provide a much needed opportunity for them to rest and relax away from the pressures of the ward.”