Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s new emergency department is to open on 16 October, according to bosses.
They hope the expanded, purpose-built facility will help reduce waiting times and halt the treatment of patients in corridors – pressures for which the hospital has drawn criticism in recent years.
The trust running the site said the existing department lacked sufficient capacity, with too few treatment and consultation rooms.
However, the trust board also urged caution, saying the new space would not be a “silver bullet” solution to difficulties.
“It will be an excellent environment for patients in terms of dignity and privacy,” Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust’s chief operating officer Helen Lancaster said.
“But it will not solve all of the challenges that Worcester has.”
The size and layout of Worcestershire’s A&E has been an issue for many years. When the Royal was built in 2002, it was estimated that up to 45,000 patients would be admitted to the emergency department each year.
Yet by 2019/20, the actual number of attendees had risen to 75,000, and continued to increase during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, a focused Care Quality Commission inspection found urgent and emergency services to be inadequate, with patients waiting too long for treatment that frequently took place on corridors.
A £17.9m business case for an expanded, relocated department was submitted in 2020, with work beginning in 2021.
Additional bed units were opened last year to try to ease A&E pressures and improve ambulance handover waits.
The original “go live” date for the revamped A&E was 2 October, but at a meeting on Monday, the trust’s board agreed to delay to avoid any impact from industrial action.
During the meeting, board chairman Russell Hardy told bosses he wanted to manage patient expectations.
“This new building will not be the silver bullet to solve the issue of the ambulance stack and the emergency department delays,” he said, arguing that the trust still needed to improve how quickly it discharged patients.
Source: BBC News