A new children’s surgical ward at Broomfield Hospital has opened.

Parents can stay overnight with their children, both ahead of and after their operations, to help reduce stress and anxiety.

It is one of just a handful of paediatric surgical wards in England where this is possible.

The £375,000 Pegasus Ward can accommodate 11 young patients, including children having plastic surgery for conditions such as cleft lip and palate.

The cleft service is shared with Great Ormond Street Hospital and is one of only nine cleft centres in the UK. Operations inside the mouth can be uncomfortable and children are in hospital for two or three nights to recover from surgery.

The space has been transformed from former offices and storerooms into two bays of four beds, and three private side rooms.

Melanie Chambers, deputy director of nursing, said: “Parents being able to stay with their children will make a huge difference to our families.

“The children will be looked after by our specialist surgical team and by creating these surgical beds in Pegasus, we free up beds on Phoenix Ward where we’re looking after children who need medical care.

“This means we’re able to see more children, quicker, and therefore help reduce waiting lists.”

The new ward received £20,000 from Friends at Broomfield and an additional £5,000 from Mid and South Essex Hospitals Charity. This went towards medical equipment, soft furnishings, as well as patient and staff comforts.