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Work on new Ronald McDonald House begins on John Radcliffe hospital site

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Today local football celebrity Martin Keown kicked off the official ground break for the long awaited new 62-bedroom Ronald McDonald House that will provide free accommodation for families with seriously ill children in the John Radcliffe hospital.

Also taking part in the event were two year-old twins Finley and Billy Kearns, who were born 12 weeks prematurely. Their parents, Laura and Robert Kearns, spent over four months at the current 17-bedroom Ronald McDonald House at Oxford Children’s Hospital, whilst Billy underwent surgery to reverse a stoma.

Sometimes the best medical care isn’t close to home so families and children can travel far for specialist treatment. The new building will be open to families with children undergoing treatment at Oxford Children’s Hospital as well as Children’s Critical Care and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the John Radcliffe Hospital site. The number of children needing treatment at the hospital has doubled over the last 15 years. The current Ronald McDonald House can no longer support all the families who need a place to stay. Last year, the House managed to accommodate 600 families but had to turn 300 families away.  
With an anticipated opening date of summer 2020, the new House will have 62 en-suite bedrooms and communal living facilities, including kitchens, lounges, playrooms, laundry rooms and a garden; making it a true ‘home away from home’ for many more families who would otherwise have to travel lengthy distances at a time of stress and anxiety. They can stay at the House as long as they need. 

The cost of the new House is more than £14 million. Ronald McDonald House Charities has already raised £9 million. Oxford Hospitals Charity has contributed £2.5 million. The charity, Children with Cancer UK is donating £288,000 and McDonald’s, its franchisees, staff and customers have donated £1.5 million.  A final £1 million to fit and furnish the House ready for opening still needs to be raised. The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has donated the use of the land free of charge. 

Dr Karen Steinhardt, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Department, Paediatric Psychology, Children’s Hospital, Oxford, said: “We provide an increasingly wide range of specialty services for children here in Oxford, which means we see families travelling longer distances for treatment. This new accommodation at Ronald McDonald House Oxford will allow more families to be close by in the hospital grounds. It will allow them to get more rest and sleep, eat properly and lead as normal a life as possible and, importantly, feel able to make the best decisions about their child’s health.  

“We know that the physical presence of the family is especially beneficial for the wellbeing of the child and this means a better outcome for the whole family.”

Jon Haward, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities, said: “We are delighted to announce today (6 February 2019) the start of our expansion of Ronald McDonald House Oxford.  We know from research, here in Oxford and internationally, that it is beneficial for the health of family members and their child to keep them close together, and that comfortable and supportive accommodation nearby is a key enabler in this process.

“I should like to thank all our partners and funders in their effort to get to this stage.”