HOSPITAL EXPANSION: £350m funding bid
the regional trauma centre, Image: LDRS
Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital could be in line for a major £350m expansion with the addition of two new regional centres, the Local Democracy Reporting Service can reveal.
Bosses believe the plans, which focus on maternity and paediatric services and major trauma and critical care, would provide “fit for purpose” facilities and keep pace with the high levels of specialist and complex care already on offer at the Marton Road site.
They have won cross-party support from Middlesbrough MP, Labour’s Andy McDonald, and Conservative Simon Clarke, who represents Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.
An ‘expression of interest’ has been submitted to the Government under a selection process which opened in July to build eight new hospitals.
The Government is aiming to build 40 new hospitals in total by 2030 in what it claims is the “biggest hospital building programme in a generation”, backed by an initial £3.7bn investment.
The South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is seeking £350m to create the Erimus Teesside and North Yorkshire Women and Children’s Centre, which would also incorporate a regional cochlear implant centre.
A second centre, potentially to be built on the south west corner of the James Cook site, would focus on major trauma and critical care and also underpin cancer and other specialist services.
Rob Harrison, the South Tees trust’s managing director, said: “These plans would provide fit for purpose buildings for services that are already provided at James Cook.”
The James Cook University Hospital already provides more than 40 different specialties, two thirds of which deliver care not just to patients in Middlesbrough, but across Teesside, North Yorkshire and the wider region.
A regional trauma centre was created in 2013 and receives 47 per cent of all trauma cases in the North-East, enabling patients to receive specialist services and rehabilitation in one place thanks to emergency medicine, critical care, radiology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology orthopaedics, vascular surgery, cardiothoracic, spinal injuries, plastic surgery and maxillofacial surgery teams.
But a trust spokesman said there was a “case for investment” in a new-build centre.
He said for example the hospital’s radiology department, which diagnoses and monitors a range of diseases and conditions from broken bones to blood clots and gastrointestinal conditions, was built when plain film x-rays were in use as the main diagnostic tool.
“These used machines no bigger than a filing cabinet, now the MRI and CT scanning machines we use are the same size as a family car,” the spokesman said.
He added that the hospital’s current maternity provision, which is more than 40 years old and would be replaced under the plans, had outgrown its current home to such an extent that the neonatal unit was housed in a temporary modular building.
The spokesman said: “The covid-19 pandemic has shown again that our clinicians are among the best in the country.
“However, facilities at James Cook – the bricks and mortar – have not always kept pace.
“A successful bid through the health infrastructure plan for £350m would enable the physical infrastructure to catch-up with the high levels of specialist and complex care already delivered at James Cook.”
Labour’s Mr McDonald said: “It is imperative that the James Cook Hospital receives this investment.
“Enabling its buildings to catch-up with the highly specialised care that its clinicians deliver is important for our local communities and the region as a whole.
“The hospital is a specialist tertiary, cancer and regional major trauma centre which serves patients right across our region and it needs the buildings to match the vitally important care that it provides.”
Conservative Mr Clarke added: “I am always supportive of further investment at James Cook.
“It’s a great hospital that serves our whole region really well and has some outstanding facilities.
“I look forward to working with the hospital as they develop this bid and bring it forward to the Government.”
The selection process will prioritise plans for services which “transform joined up care for people and provide an effective working environment for NHS staff”, as well as “stronger and greener” NHS buildings that use modern methods of construction along with sustainable and efficient design.
The next stage after expressions of interest will see proposed hospital schemes submitted by trusts “long listed” later in the year.
A final decision on the eight hospital schemes to be funded is expected by spring next year.
Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter
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