THE A&E department at Worcestershire Royal Hospital is to receive a £2.5m upgrade to reduce overcrowding and improve infection control ahead of winter.
The hospital will re-locate its Medical Assessment Unit, ambulatory emergency care and Stroke ward, allowing the emergency department to expand and same day emergency care to increase.
The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals (WAH) NHS Trust is one of four across the Midlands to receive a share of £18.8 million from the government.
The government says the funding will help boost A&E capacity and reduce overcrowding by expanding waiting areas and increasing the number of treatment cubicles.
Projects will be completed by the start of next year.
Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “A further boost to capital funding to help redevelop our most challenged emergency departments is very welcome and vital to help ensure social distancing and reduce the spread of infection.
“Crowding must be eliminated from emergency departments – now more than ever – and this is a helpful step towards tackling that problem.”
A new scheme is also being piloted across some NHS Trusts whereby the NHS 111 phone service will build on its role during the pandemic to become the first point of contact for accessing urgent medical care and booking appointments with the right service, to avoid unnecessary visits to emergency departments.
The NHS is investing £24million to increase 111 call handling capacity and allow more clinicians to provide advice.
If the pilot is successful, the new approach will be rolled out to all Trusts from December this year.
Dr Cliff Mann, NHS national clinical director for urgent and emergency care, said: “Covid infection control means rethinking how safely to look after people who might previously have been to an emergency department for a more minor condition.
“This investment will help us continue the development of NHS 111 and provide a broader range of services, with direct booking that will ensure all patients can see the right clinicians in the right setting, and address the extra challenges posed by Covid-19 so that emergency departments can safely treat those patients who do require their services.”
A public communications campaign ‘Help Us Help You’ will launch later this year to direct people to the right NHS service.
Harriett Baldwin, together with her county MP colleagues, lobbied Health Secretary Matt Hancock to earmark extra funds to help the hospital expand its Emergency Department.
She said: “Over the last five years, the Acute Trust has had a series of extra cash payments to help with winter pressures, but last year I asked the managers to develop a much larger plan to dramatically improve capacity at this busy hospital.
“I am delighted to get this news and I hope that the Trust will now press on as soon as possible to get building.
“Our doctors and nurses have done an amazing job this year dealing with the coronavirus crisis but we will still have to prepare for the usual challenges that come at winter time.
“This money is proof that the Government is committed to helping the Trust to improve its hospital and offer the best possible care for us and our loved ones.”