Published: 09:00, 07 December 2019
A new modern barista-style coffee shop is set to open next summer at Medway Maritime Hospital.
This follows the formal signing of a 10-year lease arrangement between Medway League of Friends and the trust.
The Friends, which has a shop and seating area in the foyer, is expanding to an area opposite once used as the out-patients' booking department.
Its operations manager Scott Belcher says the new cafe has more of a "high street" feel.
He said: "Up to now we have had a facility where people can come, grab a sandwich and go.
"But this will be somewhere to sit down and relax and have a drink in a real cup rather than a paper one.
It is also not replacing the existing service we provide."
The league has paid for the building work and all the fixtures and fittings at a cost in the region of £400,000.
Over the last 50 years, it has raised more than £500,000 for vital equipment at the hospital and will be donating all profits from sales to benefit patients and visitors to the trust.
Medway NHS Foundation Trust chief executive James Devine commented: “The continued support and dedication of the Friends is appreciated by everyone at the trust and I am absolutely delighted to strengthen our partnership with the development of this fantastic new coffee shop.”
Friends' chairman Derek May said: “This is an exciting day for everyone at the Medway League of Friends.
"I am so proud of the work carried out by our amazing volunteers to benefit patients, staff and the local community.
“In the last financial year, the league donated an amazing £400,000 worth of equipment to the trust, including an ECG machine, sensory toys, trolleys and ultrasound machines.
"This lovely new coffee shop will allow us to make even more of a difference in the future.”
About 18 months ago, the future of the Friends hanged in the balance amid rumours a multi-national coffee giant wanted to take over its site.
But after public support and a campaign led by the band of 180-strong volunteers, the speculated proposal never materialised.