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.
Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston said: “I know that hospital staff have worked tirelessly over recent months and do a fantastic job of taking care of us.
“While we’re optimistic for the winter, it’s important that we are prepared for the worst and I’m glad that the Government has allocated funding to our local hospital.
“Since I was elected as the MP in 2015, I have been campaigning with my fellow Worcestershire MPs and lobbying the Government for Worcestershire to get its fair share of NHS funding and I’m pleased to see the £2.5million investment going into our A&E service.
“I’m sure this news is welcomed by all of us in the area, and ensures that we are in the best possible position for the challenges the winter months may bring.”
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.