The New Hospital Programme roadshow – what happened?

Date posted: 14th September 2023 The New Hospital Programme roadshow – what happened? thumbnail image

On 16 August 2023, a summer series of national New Hospital Programme roadshow events visited Preston, as Government representatives arrived to discuss the next steps for building two new hospitals in our region.

Jerry Hawker, Senior Responsible Officer for the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme, explains the events of the day and the key themes of what was discussed.

What was the roadshow all about?

In May 2023, the Government announced investment of more than £20 billion, ring-fenced for the next phase of the national New Hospital Programme, along with a commitment to replace both Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Lancaster Infirmary with new builds on new sites. Replacements for Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Lancaster Infirmary are part of a rolling programme of national investment in capital infrastructure beyond 2030. In addition, Furness General Hospital in Barrow will benefit from investment in improvements.

Welcoming Health Minister Lord Markham CBE and representatives from the Department of Health and Social Care to Royal Preston Hospital was a chance to make the New Hospital Programme feel real. It was an opportunity for us to show them the condition of the current hospital facilities and open up the discussion with NHS staff and patients who have to deal with the challenges posed every day.

It was also a chance for us to hear more about the Government’s ‘Hospital 2.0’ plans and learn how this could benefit the people of Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Who attended?

The roadshow event was an opportunity for Lord Markham and his team to hear first-hand from staff and patients of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. Lord Markham and colleagues also had a tour of Royal Preston Hospital, which demonstrated the challenges that the current hospital facilities pose for patients and NHS staff.

We also welcomed local NHS leaders, members of parliament, local councillors and health and social care colleagues, and we allowed plenty of opportunity for questions and answers (of which there were many!). What struck me in these focused sessions was the passion people have for the NHS; people want the best possible facilities locally, which provide a great working environment for our hardworking NHS colleagues to deliver outstanding patient care.

What were the key themes?

There were many thought-provoking questions and observations raised throughout the day. Here is a list to give you an idea of the kinds of themes that came up:

  • The importance of good public transport to new hospital sites
  • Conversations across Government departments needed to make new hospital sites more attractive places for NHS staff to live and work
  • The need to make sure we build something fit for purpose for local needs, including specialised service provision at Royal Preston Hospital
  • The importance of clear, accessible signage
  • The need for childcare provision on new hospital sites
  • The importance of continued investment in facilities / services at Westmorland General Hospital
  • A call for investment in a health hub in Preston.

Each one of these discussion points is important, and I was glad that Lord Markham and his team were able to hear these directly from people in the various sessions.

Hospital 2.0

Department of Health and Social Care representatives brought along diagrams and a video explaining more about Hospital 2.0. The thinking is that by developing a national approach to delivering new hospitals – called Hospital 2.0 – they can be built more quickly and at a reduced cost, providing value for taxpayers. Patients and staff will benefit from modern hospital design making use of the latest technology, digital innovation and sustainability to improve overall patient experience and provide a better working environment for staff.

Roadshow attendees were also able to put on virtual reality headsets and see a representation of what it could be like to be inside a new hospital of the future.

Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme in the media

There has been great interest in the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme locally. You may have seen the two features on BBC North West Tonight regarding Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital. If you missed them on the day, I would encourage you to watch them, as both features describe the everyday challenges faced by NHS staff due to the hospital buildings.

Watch the BBC North West Tonight feature on Royal Lancaster Infirmary

Credit: BBC North West Tonight. Broadcast on 15 August 2023.

Roger Johnson, BBC North West Tonight: Now a hospital Trust in Lancashire says that it's having to spend up to half a million pounds every year on ambulances just to move patients around the buildings on its own site. The Royal Lancaster Infirmary has 22 buildings, many of which need repairs.

Earlier this year, the Government approved a new hospital, and the staff in Lancaster have been telling our health correspondent Gill Dummigan today that it cannot come quickly enough.

Gill Dummigan, BBC North West Tonight: The Royal Lancaster Infirmary has been on this site since the 1890s, and parts of it are definitely not ageing well.

Russ Stephenson, Estates, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust: You can see the remnants of the rain. It's running down the doors to the Chapel. It's run along the corridor area that we've got here. We've had to use the absorb mats that you see.

Gill Dummigan: Leaks are a frequent issue here and by no means the only one.

Russ Stephenson: We've got issues with drainage, we've got issues with electrical supply, we've got issues with our roofs and our infrastructure that support the functions that we do as a Trust. And at this moment in time it's all getting a little bit on top of us.

Gill Dummigan: And then there's the geography. This site's on a hill and over the years it's grown and spread across 22 different buildings, and this is one of them. This is a unit that looks after frail and elderly patients, patients who frequently have to go for scans and other treatments to entirely different parts of the hospital. And because of the way it's laid out, they often have to get there by ambulance. A huge disruption to the patients and a cost to the Trust of around half a million pounds a year.

Scott McLean, Chief Operating Officer, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust: It's a challenge that costs us twice as much to run this site as it would to run our modern new hospital on a daily basis.

Gill Dummigan: And then there's a disruption to the patients, particularly those who may already be confused.

Julia Stevenson, Ward Manager, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust: Certainly, if they've got a dementia, they think they are getting into an ambulance up there and are potentially going home, only to come down here, get out of an ambulance and come to a new environment. 

Gill Dummigan: Do they get upset when they realise they're not?

Colette Saville, Ward Manager, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust: Yes, absolutely. Sometimes can be a bit of a battle to get them back in, can't it?

Julia Stevenson: Yeah, yeah.

Gill Dummigan: The doctors too - the layout's wasting time and staff.

Dr Paul Smith, Clinical Director, Medicine, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust: Our staff at weekends are having to cover all these different areas. At night, we've got four doctors on for medicine, well, if two of them have to go to one of the more remote parts of the hospital, that leaves us with limited medical staff in the main building. So it's just stretching our teams.

Gill Dummigan: So what do you think it would be like then being in a new building where you were part of everything?

Colette Saville: Exactly that, we would feel like we are part of everything instead of isolated in a different area, you know.

Julia Stevenson: It'd be great wouldn't it?.

Colette Saville: Yeah it definitely would, yeah.

Gill Dummigan: The new building's probably a decade away. The next task is to find the site for it.

Scott McLean: We're hoping to build a modern state-of-the-art hospital that delivers world class care near the site. This happens once in a generation for a population, so we're very excited about it.

Gill Dummigan: Gill Dummigan, BBC North West Tonight at the Royal Lancaster.

Watch the BBC North West Tonight feature on Royal Preston Hospital

Credit: BBC North West Tonight. Broadcast on 16 August 2023.

Gill Dummigan, BBC North West Tonight: Today a team from the Government has turned up to talk to Lancashire's health leaders and MPs about a bright new future.

Kevin McGee, Chief Executive for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: It's a very exciting day. We've been planning for this for many, many years. There's absolutely no doubt we need a new hospital for Preston.

Gill Dummigan: Nowhere more so than the emergency department. Since it was built, the hospital has become the area's major trauma centre. But the current space is bursting at the seams.

Graham Ellis, Clinical Director, Emergency Department, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: It's very tight and parts of our department are actually taken from other departments and we've developed them rather than being built for purpose. If you're coordinating the shift, you're constantly juggling patients from one area to another, trying to keep them safe, trying to get trolleys past each other. Wheelchairs past trolleys is always difficult.

Gill Dummigan, BBC North West Tonight: ​​​​​​​And how does that impact on patient care as well?

Graham Ellis: Overall it just slows it down. You're constantly trying to find a place for your patients to go and for doctors and nurses to actually do their admin work as well.

Gill Dummigan: That lack of space is everywhere. In the stroke unit, 40-year-old Wendy's getting rehabilitation from a team of therapists. But they've all got to squeeze into a curtained off space on a six bed ward.

Claire Granato, Chief Allied Health Professional, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Rooms that the therapists and others used to use have had to be taken up with more beds because we we need to meet that demand, obviously. But it's meant that all the interventions and rehabilitation that they deliver here are done in that bed space and that is limiting. And also, you know, we do work really hard to protect. Obviously in dignity, but it only goes so far when it is curtains and and not walls.

Gill Dummigan: Those designing a new hospital like Claire want it to have more single rooms. They also want it to be easier to get around so patients and staff aren't wasting time going between treatments.

Dr Somnath Kumar, Cardiac Consultant, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: If we had a hub of diagnostic facilities and along with it a bespoke model of the clinical services that we require, then the travelling time will be far less. People will be able to walk over just to organise things, at the moment that's a big impediment.

Gill Dummigan: As with the Royal Lancaster, no decisions has yet been made on where this new hospital's going to be. But the one thing that we have been told is that it'll be to the South of Preston. And that brings it nearer to Chorley, which has its own hospital with an A&E which has been threatened with closure on several occasions. So what does that mean for there?

Kevin McGee: We are absolutely committed to delivering and providing our A&E services from the Chorley site until the new hospital opens, so that's at least for the next 10 years. What about after?

So after, that will depend where the new hospital is and the one commitment I can give absolutely: that will be full engagement and full consultation, because it's important that we get this right. We'll have one shot at it and it's important that we get it right for the future.

Gill Dummigan: ​​​​​​​Gill Dummigan, BBC North West tonight at the Royal Preston.

Where does the programme go from here?

There has also been much interest in the locations to build both a new Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital. We continue to carry out further detailed work on this, and we need to assess the viability of potential locations for new hospital builds and to develop the required business cases.

There is still further work to be completed in this area and additional sites may emerge over the coming period – I recently wrote a blog about where to build two new hospitals, which you may find interesting.

I can once again assure you that further information will be shared in due course, and we are aware that people are keen to hear the recommended locations at the conclusion of this stage of work.

The existing Lancaster and Preston sites will remain in place and deliver services to our population until new hospital facilities are opened. The local NHS will continue to keep communities involved and provide further updates as more information becomes available.

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