New hospital plans are set to be unveiled to the public

I am delighted to devote this month's matron column to our plans for our new Berwick hospital being unveiled to the public.

Friday, 18th March 2016, 1:46 pm
Berwick Matron Annaluisa Wood.

After a lot of hard work by our design team and architects to get to this stage, local residents will soon have the opportunity to have a look at the plans, find out more and give us their views.

As you may have heard, we’re holding engagement sessions on Wednesday, March 30, from 10am to 4pm, at The Maltings in Berwick, and on Thursday, April 21 here at Berwick Infirmary, in the Mather Unit waiting area, from 4.30pm to 7pm.

Berwick Infirmary.

I’m sure you will agree that this is hugely positive news and a massive step forward for the project.

Our staff will be on hand at the drop-in sessions to showcase the architects’ plans and talk people through them. We would encourage everyone to come along as this is your chance to see the plans for yourself and ask any questions.

The plans show where services will be located in the new hospital.

These include a 30-bed inpatient ward, outpatient clinics, a minor injuries unit, maternity services, diagnostics, physiotherapy, chemotherapy and day surgery/endoscopy.

Berwick Infirmary.

It also shows where Well Close Medical Group will be, which is moving from its existing premises currently along the road from us into the hospital itself, which is excellent news.

While we already have extremely close links with our GP colleagues, with family doctors providing support to patients on our ward and in our minor injuries unit, being based in the same building will pave the way for further integration between primary and secondary care.

We know how important it is for parts of the health services to be joined up, and as a trust we always work with our partners to benefit our patients, particularly around new developments.

This was the case when two GP practices were incorporated into the new Hexham General Hospital, and in Morpeth, when outpatient, diagnostic, community services and the town’s two GP practices came together in the new Morpeth NHS Centre. Both of which are working really well.

In Haltwhistle, we also worked with Northumberland County Council to develop an integrated health and social care scheme. It was the first initiative of its kind in the country to have hospital and social care support under one roof.

There are also plans for The Rothbury Practice to move into our Rothbury Community Hospital, following a successful trend in Northumberland.

The new Berwick hospital plans also include space for our community nurses to be based on site. Again, we already work extremely closely with these teams to help ensure patients experience a seamless transition from hospital to home. However, like the GP practice, having this on site will only help make this easier.

Having these services all based together will also help our work to pioneer new models of care, with Northumberland being a national vanguard site.

It is very important for us to ensure that services are maintained during the build and we have worked hard to ensure that this is the case.

While the vast majority of these will be incorporated elsewhere on the Berwick site, day surgery and endoscopy will, however, be based at Alnwick Infirmary during the build due to the specialist equipment involved.

We understand people may have concerns about how they’ll get to Alnwick for their procedure and we’d like to reassure people that we will provide transport for those who would find it difficult to get there.

However, when the new day surgery and endoscopy suite is open, we aim to bring more services to the town, such as bowel cancer screening.

Due to the building work on site, it will also not be possible for the mobile MRI and CT scanners who visit us regularly to continue to do so during construction.

Again, these services will be based at Alnwick Infirmary, and, like day surgery and endoscopy, transport will be provided.

We hope as many of you as possible will come along to our engagement sessions and give us your views.

We’ve already showed our plans to our staff and public governors, and had extremely positive feedback so we’re looking forward to sharing them with the wider public.

See you all then.

Before I go, just a reminder that there’s still time for people to share their experiences and views about health and social care services in Northumberland.

This is part of the vanguard programme I previously mentioned, where partners are working together on a collective vision for the county.

People can give their views by completing the online survey at before it closes on Sunday, March 20.

We’ve had widespread support for this next step of our new Berwick hospital plans from the community.

Here’s what our partners have had to say:

Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s great to see that a GP practice is included in plans for a new hospital for Berwick, which further demonstrates that Northumberland is at the forefront of work in the NHS to deliver integrated care for patients.

“It is yet another excellent example of different parts of the NHS working together with a common goal to bring about real benefits for patients.”

County councillor Scott Dickinson, who is chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board in Northumberland, said: “This is fantastic news for people in Berwick and surrounding areas, and it’s great that people will soon get the chance to see the proposals for themselves.

“It will be a major asset to the town and our county, and we’d encourage people to grasp this opportunity and go along to find out more.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, said: “As a former public governor for Northumbria Healthcare for over 10 years, and a great supporter of all the trust is doing, I’m very excited to see the next phase of the new Berwick hospital.

“I would actively encourage local residents to go along and share their views as we all look forward to a new hospital in our wonderful town.”

It’s now the opportunity for you to have your say on the hospital plans.

A public engagement session will be held at The Maltings in Berwick on Wednesday, March 30, from 10am to 4pm.

For residents unable to make the daytime session, there is another chance to have your say on Thursday, April 21 when an evening event will be held.

The further engagement session will take place in the Mather Unit waiting area of Berwick Infirmary. It will run from 4.30pm to 7pm.