Your questions answered: new Berwick hospital
- You paused to consider new ideas – why have you gone back to the original site?
Following the pause the trust came forward with plans for a co-located hospital/ leisure facility. Whilst it was felt this offered a positive solution to the area’s needs, local people did not agree. The trust has listened to this feedback and after a review of all the options available feel this is the best way forward.
- You ruled out the current site as unsuitable last year – what has changed?
The current site was unsuitable for a co-located hospital/leisure facility but given the trust is now moving forward with a stand-alone hospital the site is, as previously determined, appropriate.
- Whilst the new hospital is being built what will happen to the current one? Will services continue?
The trust will do all it can to minimise or mitigate any disruption but cannot rule it out entirely. Throughout construction services will continue to operate largely as normal.
- Is it really a new building or is it just a refurbishment?
This is a new build and NOT a refurbishment. The trust will be building a new hospital in Berwick – on the existing site.
- Why has it taken so long?
It has taken far longer than the trust would have liked to get to this stage but it is now confident it has a plan which both meets the area’s clinical needs and will enjoy public support.
- Is the whole £25million still to be spent?
Yes, the trust will need all of this investment to build the new hospital.
- What other sites were considered? Why were they rejected?
Seton Hall, Ord Drive and Rotary Way were considered alongside the current Infirmary. Ord Drive and Rotary Way were ruled out due to being in industrial hazard zones unsuitable for this type of building. Seton Hall had significant highways issues and was in close proximity of a sewage treatment works, something that would have impacted negatively on the build.
- Will all the services on the current site be retained?
Yes, the new hospital will have the services that are currently provided at the Infirmary.
- Will new services be added? If so which?
Whilst it is too early to say the new hospital will be built to a flexible, adaptable and modular design so changes to service provision will be possible if they are both safe and sustainable.
- Will primary care still be co-located on site?
The trust is currently in discussions with the local GPs but is hopeful they will take up residence in the new hospital.
- What will be done to reduce the number of journeys to other hospitals people from Berwick have to make?
This was a message the trust heard loud and clear throughout its public engagement and is determined to act on it. Through a combination of new technology (telemedicine etc) and new ways of working it is committed to doing all it (safely) can to reduce the number of journeys taken by local residents.
- Will there be an A&E in the new hospital?
Just as there is no full A&E service now – this will not change. A full-scale A&E service would be neither safe nor sustainable. This would lead to serious risks to both patient and staff safety – something the trust will not countenance. Berwick minor injuries unit will continue to operate 24/7.
- How many inpatient beds will there be?
There will be 20 inpatient beds. However beds are not and should not be the measure of success for the NHS as thanks to new technology and new ways of working more and more procedures/treatments can be delivered without the need for an inpatient stay. This is enormously to the benefit of patients who recover faster and further when they are able to return to their own homes and environments as soon as it is safe/appropriate.
- When can we see plans?
It is too early to say but as soon as the trust has them ready to share it will do so.
- What is the timeline to opening?
The trust doesn’t have a set timescale yet as it is still in negotiations regarding key aspects of the project. As soon as it can share more information it will.
- Honestly, will it actually happen this time? Why should we believe you?
The trust is well aware there are frustrations locally that this has taken so long – it more than empathises! – but can assure everyone that this project is a priority to the trust and a key (indispensable) part of its five-year plan.
- Are the council and CCG still involved?
Although the trust is no longer pursuing a joint site it will still be working closely with its partners at Northumberland County Council and NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group.
- What about integrated services – will this still happen?
The integration of NHS services is a critical aspect of the NHS’ long-term plan and will continue to be pursued whenever it is in patients’ interests.
- Will the bell tower be retained for the new hospital?
It is too early to say but as soon as designs are ready to share the trust will do so. It is important to note that the bell tower is not a listed building however the trust knows how important it is to some people in the area and will consider this as it moves forward.
- Back in 2014 you did some archaeological digs on the site – what did you find? Will this be happening again?
No issues came to light as a result of the previous (extensive) dig so it will not be happening again.
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