A COSTA Coffee and a new Marks & Spencer counter in the revamped WH Smith are just two of the new facilities in Poole Hospital's swanky new entrance.

The cramped, dated facilities which saw patients wheeled through public areas via a chilly plastic tunnel have been replaced by 'modern and spacious' ones with a minimalist, architectural look which, says the hospital, will provide additional services for patients, staff and visitors.

The major function of the improved entrance is to improve the dignity and comfort of patient transfers across the hospital, said a spokesman.

"Previously, patients were transferred via an unheated transparent tunnel but a new patient link corridor will enable patients to be transported around the hospital with improved comfort, efficiency and dignity," he said.

The corridor will be open by the end of the week.

The entrance opening completes the project’s first phase which includes a new reception desk, a security office, a CCTV monitoring station, and a car-park office.

There is also the new Costa Coffee, WH Smith and a Stock Shop clothing store, and new, self-service check-in kiosks for outpatients will also be operational soon.

The second phase of the works are scheduled to be completed by the end of June and will include a new Changing Places toilet and patient information hub.

Changing Places are enhanced disabled changing facilities that contain equipment to help people with limited mobility to use the toilet comfortably or get changed privately. This new toilet will replace the current Costa Coffee unit in the dome area of the hospital, and the café’s seating area will be repurposed into a new patient experience centre.

Mark Orchard, director of finance, said: “I just wanted to say thank you to all our partners, staff and the public for making this happen. The new facility looks fantastic and it will be a modern and spacious centre that will welcome visitors to the hospital and improve the dignity and efficiency of patient transfers.”

The Main Entrance is part of a radical overhaul of the hospital site as it gears up for the proposed merger with Royal Bournemouth. It was developed with no capital investment from the trust and was financed entirely by commercial partners.

Whilst it's now operational, the official opening of the new main entrance will be in September.The existing main entrance will now be known as the north entrance.