Visitors delighted with plans for £25million Berwick hospital

To open this month's matron column, I'd like to thank everyone who's taken the time to come along to see our plans for a £25million hospital in Berwick.

Friday, 29th April 2016, 2:40 pm
Medical staff and members of the public given the chance to see and have their say on hospital plans.

It’s been excellent to meet you all and hear your views about our plans, which will provide state-of-the-art facilities in which to provide all the hospital services we currently have here in Berwick.

I’m delighted to say that the feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive, with people really pleased to have the opportunity to see our plans.

Annie-Marie Trevelyan MP with Jennifer Coe and Paul Brayson, from Northumbria Healthcare

Residents have been reassured that the services we currently have at Berwick Infirmary are going to be replicated.

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People were also understanding about the fact that there would inevitably be some element of inconvenience during the building works. However, we will do all we can to keep this to a minimum.

It’s certainly been a busy few weeks carrying out the community engagement and we’ve had contact with almost 300 people, including staff, members of the public and stakeholders.

First of all, we held three sessions for staff at varying times of the day to cater for different shift patterns and 50 colleagues attended.

Annie-Marie Trevelyan MP with Jennifer Coe and Paul Brayson, from Northumbria Healthcare

While a number of staff have had huge input and influence on the clinical designs so far for the hospital in order that it aids the delivery of high quality patient care, this was a chance for colleagues, wherever they work, to have a look at the overall plans and how they fit together.

This not only included hospital staff, but community nursing colleagues, who will be based in the hospital when they’re not out and about treating patients in the community or at home.

We also held a session for our public governors. These are people who have been elected by our members to represent the views of the local community and are really pleased to see plans for the new hospital progress.

We also presented them to our council of governors, which is a body made up of elected governors from across the trust’s patch of Northumberland and North Tyneside and governors’ representatives from partner organisations.

We then had two public sessions – the first at the end of March in The Maltings, and the second last week in the Infirmary, which were both really well attended with more than 170 people coming along.

In addition to this, we’ve also been engaging with various community groups, including Berwick Town Council, The League of Friends and Northumberland overview and scrutiny committee. We also went to visit our MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was very supportive of our plans.

This is a major development for the town and it’s hugely important that we engage with as many people and interested parties as possible and I’d like to thank them all for hosting us.

As I said, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with people raising a wide range of points.

These covered the design and layout of the building, how the departments would work together, catering, car parking, the Bell Tower, the GP practice and transport to Alnwick Infirmary for day surgery and endoscopy services during the construction period.

At each session, we had staff on hand to answer people’s questions and give more details.

I’ve personally really enjoyed meeting everyone and hearing what people think of the plans.

We’ve always said that we’d share them with residents as soon as we were in a position to do so and I’m really proud that we’ve done that and are taking all the feedback on board.

Following the engagement, work continues behind the scenes and we’re now concentrating on the next stage of the project pulling together everything we need to submit the planning application to Northumberland County Council.

We hope to be able to submit this later this year.

Just to recap, the new hospital will have an inpatient ward, outpatient clinics, a minor injuries unit, maternity services, diagnostics, physiotherapy, chemotherapy and day surgery/endoscopy.

For the first time, it will also incorporate our neighbouring GP practice – Well Close Medical Group.

While we already work closely with our GP colleagues, having the practice based on site will only help to integrate care even further.

Whereas we always try to provide as much care as we can close to people’s homes, there will be times when, for clinical reasons, people from the Berwick area will have to spend time in other hospitals, such as Wansbeck General Hospital or the Northumbria hospital.

Being able to visit these loved ones is vital for the patient and the relative, however we fully appreciate that people, particularly the elderly without transport of their own, can find it difficult to make the journey.

We’d like to remind people in the Berwick area that we run a free service every weekday to transport relatives to see patients in these hospitals.

The service can also call at North Tyneside General Hospital as it may be possible that, for clinical reasons, a patient may be transferred there.

People must book a place on the service 24 hours in advance so we know how many people we need to transport.

It leaves Berwick Infirmary’s main reception at 12.30pm to arrive at the hospitals in time for afternoon visiting.

Following visiting, it picks everyone back up and returns to Berwick.

We would encourage people in the Berwick area who have difficulty getting to hospital to visit a loved one to make use of this service.

To book a place, contact the main reception at Berwick Infirmary on 01289 356601 between the hours of 9am and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday, or between the hours of 7am and 9.30pm every day on 01289 356664.

Before I go, I would again like to thank everyone who took part in our engagement and I’ll update you on the next stage of the development as soon as I can.