Roslyn Neely: Sick Kids name was out of step

In 2015, I was lucky enough to be invited to visit a camp for children with serious ­illness, as our charity had funded a number of places.

The new Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity logo

For many it was their first time ­trying adventurous or new pursuits, such as drama to abseiling, while surrounded by encouragement and the notion that they are capable of anything.

As I pulled on our charity T-shirt to make my way there, I was struck by the words ‘Sick Kids’ emblazoned across the front.

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In a charity which claims to ­transform the experiences of ­children and young people in ­hospital, so that they can be a child first and their condition or illness is ­secondary, the name felt somewhat out of step. Soon afterwards, NHS Lothian advised us that the current Royal Hospital for Sick ­Children would change its ­official name to The Royal ­Hospital for Children and Young People when it relocates ­early next year.

This reflected not only a move away from the language of ‘sick’ but also the increase in age from 13 to 16 years.

We felt that this gave us a ­positive opportunity to reflect this in our own name and brand. We knew that changing our name would be a big decision, so we embarked on a lengthy programme of engagement and consultation with those people most closely linked to the charity, to make sure that we would get it right.

The views of families who benefit from our services were the most influential. Many felt, as they faced a move to a new hospital building, that the familiarity which our brand could provide would be comforting to them.

The round, red logo with a child and teddy bear was, for most, ­synonymous with the charity and the hospital. From the feedback that we received, we updated our logo to include an ­older child with her hand around the younger one’s shoulder.

The new name, Edinburgh ­Children’s Hospital Charity, we thought, would be a harder sell but those who we tested it with (around 200 families, staff, ­volunteers and supporters) immediately ­understood the desire to move away from ‘sick’ and liked the ­clarity it provided. We know that some ­people will continue to use the term ‘Sick Kids’ in relation to the ­hospital and the charity, at least in the ­immediate future.

However, the overwhelmingly positive response from ­children, young people and families who use the hospital’s services has ­demonstrated that this name change is welcomed and appreciated.

We have had the great privilege of supporting the work of the hospital for 25 years.

Now we can look forward to ­continuing that vital work and ­support with, as one parent perfectly summed up, “a new name but the same aim”.

Roslyn Neely is chief executive 
­officer of Edinburgh Children’s ­Hospital Charity.