Designers are being appointed to plan a brand new two-storey hospital for Berwick, after the NHS secured funds to move the project on.
Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust has borrowed £25million through Northumberland County Council to rebuild Berwick Infirmary to modern day standards. The budget includes works, fees, furniture and equipment.
The move is part of the trust’s long-standing commitment to community hospitals and local services.
Paul Brayson, project manager at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I have noticed recently some talk in the international press that local, community hospitals should be developed - someone has come up with the idea that community hospitals are a good idea and we should invest in them.
“In Northumberland we have been doing that for years. We have always known that our community hospitals are very important to the local communities they serve. In an area as large as Northumberland we are trying to keep local services local wherever possible. Berwick is a busy, vibrant centre and it is very much part of our long-standing, long-term plan to redevelop community hospitals.”
The new hospital - due to be fully operational by 2018 - will be constructed on the current town centre site.
It will be a phased build so services can continue as far as possible during construction.
A new facility is needed as the current building, which was opened in 1874, is no longer fit for purpose.
“The building has served it’s local community very well but has reached a point where its useful life has reached and end,” Mr Brayson said. “We will provide all of the existing services in the new hospital and it gives us an opportunity to redesign the facility.
“We’re appointing designers as we speak.”
Midwifery-led maternity care will continue to be provided at the infirmary, though it is likely to be incorporated into the main building.
The trust had wanted to build the new hospital on fields at Berwick Academy, but could not secure the land.
“The biggest benefit about the hospital site is that it is available for development and we shouldn’t underestimate that,” Mr Brayson insisted.
“The current site does have limitations but we are comfortable that it can accommodate future growth.”