Worcester’s local MP Robin Walker has welcomed the news of a £15 million investment into Worcestershire Royal Hospital following a long running campaign to secure the funding and expand Worcester’s A&E.
The government has allocated the cash to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to improve Emergency and Urgent care at the hospital. The announcement comes after a long campaign, including eleven years of campaigning in Parliament by Robin. He has invited successive Health Secretaries including Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock to visit the hospital and to see for themselves the pressing need for more capacity at Worcester’s A&E.
Many have considered Worcester Royal’s Emergency Department to be lacking capacity since the hospital opened in 2002. In 2017, £29 million was allocated to the Trust to improve facilities there, and at the Worcestershire Alexandra Hospital in Redditch. Initial planning for the hospital had been based on Worcestershire residents also having access to Accident and Emergency facilities at Kidderminster, however the A+E department in Kidderminster was shut two years before Worcester Royal opened by the then-Labour government.
The new plans will improve urgent care facilities at the hospital, meeting the long standing capacity challenge and giving staff the best facilities to care for patients. They will include a dedicated children’s emergency department, X-ray and other diagnostic facilities and a range of same-day emergency care and short stay urgent medical services all in one unit. The new emergency floor will be around a third larger than the current ED with additional facilities on the floor above.
The plan for new emergency facilities will allow for the exiting ED to continue working whilst the new facilities are made ready and will minimise disruption to patients as the new larger facilities can be prepared in the currently empty ground and first floor spaces of the Aconbury building I whilst the ED continues with business as usual. The new Emergency Department will to be relocated to the new unit when it is complete and an ‘emergency village’ will be created with a wide range of diagnostic and treatment services. Building work could start as soon as April, with services being delivered by spring 2022.
“I am delighted at this news as delivering funding for the Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s Emergency Department has been one of my top priorities since first being elected in 2010. I have consistently called for an expansion to the hospital and a bigger emergency department and whilst I welcomed the funding that was approved during the Parliament before last for wards and the new link bridge, I was clear that it would never be enough to meet the needs of our growing population without further investment in emergency care.
“Over the last year the importance of our National Health Service has been proven once again and we have needed every ounce of capacity that our Hospitals could offer. The extra wards and facilities that were funded with the last round of capital investment were essential to the battle against coronavirus but we still faced the challenge of an ED which comes under enormous pressure every winter due to its size. I was at pains to point this out to Matt Hancock when he visited our hospital and I am glad that he listened. This Government’s number one spending priority is the NHS and I am delighted that after so many years of campaigning it is this Conservative Government which is providing Worcester with the money it needs.
“A number of options were discussed to improve emergency services at the hospital and I am glad that the solution now being proposed will reduce disruption while the improvement works take place. I am also pleased to see plans to relocate the helipad for the air ambulance so that it will be closer to the emergency department and I know this is something that the West Midlands air ambulance have long wanted to achieve . I will be encouraging the trust to take the opportunity to look at how they can improve the parking facilities at the hospital and provide more parking spaces for staff and patients alongside this expansion.
“Getting this vital expansion we have fought for over such a long period is the end of one long journey when it comes to the ED but it is by no means the limit of my ambitions for our hospital or our health service. We now have an opportunity to go further to improve patient care in the city by supporting Worcester University’s plans to develop its medical school, and backing Worcester’s bid to the government’s Towns Fund which would see millions more spent on health and wellbeing training opportunities. I am proud that during my time as MP we have seen more doctors, more nurses, a state of the art radiotherapy unit, a dedicated breast unit and now the expansion of A&E that Worcester has long needed. I will keep on campaigning to ensure that our hospital gets the capacity and the facilities that it needs and deserves.”