Royal Free's Pears Building welcomes its first patient

Debbie Cleeve-Evans, the Pears Building's first resident

Debbie Cleeve-Evans, the Pears Building's first resident - Credit: Royal Free Hospital

The Royal Free's new Pears Building has received a big thumbs up from its first patient.

The £60m building is home to the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT), as well as the Royal Free Charity.

Debbie Cleeve-Evans, 54, from Gosport, Portsmouth, praised the staff for helping her to feel at home in the accommodation, which is designed to give patients who live far from the hospital and who don’t need to be cared for on a ward, a place to stay overnight.

In 2019, Debbie had a liver transplant at the Royal Free but earlier this year complications arose around the area of her original surgical scar. Because the operation she required is complex, she was referred back to the hospital's specialist surgeons.   

The night before her surgery, Debbie was booked into the Pears Building and she said as soon as she walked through the doors she felt taken care of.

“Even though I was the only person staying in the building, I felt totally comfortable,” she said.

“It was nothing like being in a hospital, it felt so uplifting and relaxing. The staff were absolutely lovely and made me feel so welcome and really spent time helping me with things like the Wi-Fi. There was a wonderful view from my balcony and I even managed to get a decent night's sleep ahead of my op.”

A room at the Royal Free's Pears Building

A room at the Royal Free's Pears Building - Credit: Royal Free Hospital

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The Pears Building is a joint project between the Royal Free London, the Royal Free Charity and University College London. 

It will shortly be the new home of the IIT, a research centre where scientists are developing novel therapies for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, HIV and hepatitis. 

The building also provides two floors of accommodation for patients like Debbie or for those participating in clinical trials. Previously these patients stayed in local hotels.

Following her surgery, Debbie said: “I’ve had a mesh patch inserted and I must admit I feel a bit like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.

“But I’m hoping I’ll recover my strength soon. I’m not one for sitting around, I love spending time with my grandchildren and doing all sorts of DIY. The new accommodation is a big plus for us patients, it is a step up from a hotel - I definitely give the place a 100% rating.”