Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) will soon be able to take the final steps to becoming a surgical elective hub within University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust - thanks to an additional £7.6m of funding.
WGH became a designated 'Elective Green Surgical Hub' as defined by NHS England and Improvement (NHSI/E) in 2020. The hubs were established to carry out more elective surgical operations where patients are deemed suitable and fit for surgery and help to reduce the backlog of patients awaiting surgery due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the hub can treat more patients who are deemed suitable to have their procedure in that environment, it also frees up more space at the Trust’s other two operating sites. This means patients who are not able to have their procedure at WGH can be seen quicker at the hospital most appropriate for their needs.
The additional funding - awarded as part of the national Elective Recovery Plan - will be used to continue improving and expanding the theatre department at WGH. Having already completed the renovation of two theatres in the main theatre department with the third due for completion in coming weeks, the monies will support:
- The completion of two new permanent state of the art operating theatres to remove the need for the hire of temporary, mobile surgical units
- The purchase of new medical equipment
- The expansion and upgrade of the recovery area where patients are taken following their surgical procedure
- The creation of a waiting area so patients are close to the operating theatres before their surgical procedure
- New support facilities for colleagues - including a rest room and changing facilities
- Energy efficiency measures using latest technologies, lighting and insulation to contribute towards the Trust’s Net Zero Green Plan
- Improved and expanded storage facilities
Scott Mclean, Chief Operating Officer, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “This funding is great news for our teams and the communities we serve. This additional funding takes the total amount we are investing into surgical facilities at WGH to £16.7m from 2019 to the end of this project.
“The development at WGH is a key part of our plans to cement the hospital as our hub for elective surgery and will allow us to offer more procedures to patients in state-of-the-art facilities. It will also reduce pressure on our other two acute hospitals in Barrow and Lancaster and give us the ability to continue surgical activity in case of another wave of COVID-19.”
The work is expected to be complete by mid-2023 and will see the hospital’s total number of permanent theatres increase from four to five, supported by a sixth modular theatre. This will allow the temporary Vanguard theatres currently on site to be removed.
Dr Wendy Craig, Clinical Director - Surgery and Critical Care, UHMBT, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this additional funding. It will allow us to make some fantastic enhancements to the surgical facilities that we provide for patients, whilst also improving the environment that our teams work in.
“The teams are working hard to bring our plans to life; and we look forward to opening the new facilities next year.”
Steve Barclay, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “We appreciate that there are challenges resulting from the pandemic that need to be overcome in order for your teams and staff to clear the backlogs of patients waiting for treatment. Thank you for all your work.
“We are announcing 50 more surgical hubs, including in your area, which are a fantastic example of how we are innovating to address variation across the country, boost the number of operations and reduce waiting times for vital procedures.
“These new surgical hubs will deliver millions of additional operations over the next three years, helping the NHS achieve the biggest recovery programme in its history.”