The under-pressure accident and emergency department at Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital will be extended in a £1.5 million development to help it cope with thousands of extra patients.
The hospital is already dealing with 40,000 more patients a year than it was designed to cope with.
And even greater numbers will pour through its doors when it takes on patients from scandal-hit Stafford Hospital, which is set to be downgraded.
Both Stafford and Cannock Hospitals are likely to be downsized with some services, including emergency care, being transferred to New Cross and Walsall Manor.
Bosses have now approved a £1.5million extension to add 12 new bays to the overcrowded department after it emerged patients at the Wednesfield site are regularly being treated in corridors as there are not enough beds for them to be cared in.
Work will begin within weeks and comes a year after another £1m upgrade designed to ease the patient backlog.
The extension is expected to be an interim measure to help ease the pressure on the department caused by increasing patient numbers.
A brand new £25m A&E department, which will be four times the size of the current one, is due to open in 2015.
David Loughton, chief executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said that the £1.5m facelift still wasn’t an adequate solution to sufficiently improve the department he recently labelled as “unfit for purpose” but he said it would help relieve pressure.
“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – it’ll still be a sow’s ear,” he said.
“But it’s a necessary thing to do because there’s no dignity for patients being treated in corridors.
“We can’t keep going with what’s happening at the moment – we’re putting 40,000 extra people through the department a year.
“This is the scale of the problems we face. But this £1.5m scheme will help relieve pressure and mean we can hopefully stop putting people in the corridor,” added Mr Loughton.
The 12 bays – classed as major cubicles – will more than double the current number in the department, which has nine at the moment.
The hospital trust was recently fined £17,000 for missing its target of seeing 95 per cent of patients within four hours. New Cross Hospital missed its target by three per cent.