Video - Professor Silas Nicholls on the New Hospitals Programme

Date posted: 24th May 2024

Professor Silas Nicholls, Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explains what excites him about the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of healthcare in our area.

The Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop cutting-edge facilities, offering the absolute best in modern healthcare. The New Hospitals Programme aims to address significant problems with the ageing hospitals in Preston (Royal Preston Hospital) and Lancaster (Royal Lancaster Infirmary). We also need to invest in Furness General Hospital’s infrastructure in the context of its strategic importance and geographically remote location. This will provide patients with high-quality, next generation hospital facilities and technologies. Hospital buildings will be designed in a way to meet demand, while remaining flexible and sustainable for future generations. The aim is to support local communities, bringing jobs, skills and contracts to Lancashire and South Cumbria businesses and residents.

Further detailed work currently is underway to assess the viability of potential locations for new hospital builds for both Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Lancaster Infirmary 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. Further information will be shared in due course, as part of the programme’s next phase of proactive communications and pre-consultation engagement.

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So what excites me about the New Hospital Programme is it's a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future of healthcare for the people of Lancashire and beyond.

There are some very specific things within the programme that I think are absolutely fantastic. All of the new hospitals will be digitally enabled. So what that means is we can make the very best use of IT, diagnostics, AI, and many, many other things as well.

The hospital philosophy is very much designed around designing the flow of the hospital, the structure of the hospital around the flow of the work. And as part of that we will be involving staff and patients in the design. And then there will be some very, very practical things as well: having a campus facility I think will be a great opportunity for us, potentially also to bring in new partners but also very practical things such as more single room accommodation for our patients as well.

The main challenges that we have at the moment at the current Royal Preston sites are really about the actual fabric of the estate itself. The building itself was built in the late 70s, early 80s. It served us really well, but unfortunately we're now at a point where it's actually sort of reaching the end of its life. If you look at the backlog maintenance alone, that comes to about £157 million. And we did a recent survey of the current estate and what that showed very clearly was about 80% of it would need to be demolished and replaced in the medium to longer term. So clearly served us well but definitely now time for a change.

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