A specialist children’s hospital has become the first of its kind to receive a rating of “outstanding” from healthcare inspectors in England. Birmingham Children’s Hospital was criticised eight years ago for having insufficient numbers of beds, operating theatres and trained staff. But now the Care Quality Commission has praised the NHS trust for “working effectively to provide the best care”. The head of the hospital has paid tribute to her 3,700 staff. I spent a day there to hear from patients, families and staff. Seven-month-old Connor McCue was diagnosed with a rare liver condition at the age of 12 weeks. He is recovering from his second transplant and sleeping peacefully on a large intensive care bed. Connor’s mother, Jess, turned 28 recently – and the children’s hospital staff put up balloons and cards for her. She told me: “We’ve nearly lost Connor several times in the last six weeks of being here – without them, we wouldn’t have a child lying in this bed. “While he is still quite poorly, we have every faith we’ll get to take him home. That’s the only thing you ask as the parent of a sick child.” Supporting the whole family, and helping young patients feel relaxed in a busy and daunting environment, are extra challenges for specialist children’s hospitals. In the busy outpatients clinic, Macey Hardcastle, five, who has a genetic condition called Stickler syndrome, has just had her hearing and sight checked. She said: “I play so I don’t get bored. I feel OK about coming here because I know it’s going to be OK.” Another patient, Nyadhiel Nyoat, 12, told me: “I was with a doctor here a couple of weeks ago. It was very relaxed – he wasn’t scary or anything.