£14m needed to tackle rising patient numbers at Walsall Manor Hospital
Millions of pounds is being pumped into improving departments and recruiting extra staff as Walsall Manor Hospital caters for rising numbers of patients.
A new A&E department, intensive care unit and expansion of maternity services have already been earmarked as Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust estimates it needs a further £14 million to cater for demand.
A £170m redevelopment of the site off Pleck Road was completed three years ago and health chiefs are now looking to further boost facilities at the hospital.
Chief executive Richard Kirby admits times are tough but is embracing the challenges.
He said today: "It is an interesting time for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, particularly with the impending work around the new integrated Critical Care Unit and the development of our emergency department, both of which we hope will greatly improve the experience of our colleagues and our patients.
"It remains a very busy time and as we head into winter we are preparing as best we can for the additional pressures that the season brings. We have recently recruited over 30 nurses and 68 apprentices who will be starting over the coming weeks.
"These members of staff will provide vital support across the organisation as we enter the extremely busy period."
Mr Kirby said staff were encouraged by recently released ratings which placed Walsall in the safest band of hospitals for patient safety – but pledged complacency would not be allowed to set in.
"We are also continuing to work hard around quality and safety and have recently updated our quality and safety strategy to reflect recent focuses on the NHS nationally," he said.
"As a trust we were pleased to be banded as a six in recent data published by the CQC, putting us in the lowest risk category.
"Although this is encouraging, we know that we need to continue to work hard to provide care to the quality and safety standards that we set ourselves."
Walsall Manor has already faced increased numbers of patients from Staffordshire as emergency admissions have rocketed by up to 40 per cent.
Demand will further increase under plans to strip services from Stafford Hospital, which will lose its maternity unit delivering 1,800 babies a year, with major surgery and children's inpatient care also moving elsewhere. Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust says it needs an extra £14m to meet demand. In September alone more than £2m was spent on agency, locum and bank staff.
Health bosses say up to 130 workers are being recruited to ease pressure while steps are being taken to improve rostering and the booking of temporary staff. A recruitment drive for new nurses was recently launched by the health trust, including for apprentice positions and A&E workers. That came after it emerged not enough patients at Walsall Manor were being seen within a four hour target.
Health chiefs failed to meet the 95 per cent standard for people going through the A&E department as set out nationally for the second month in a row.
There are long-term plans for the multi-million revamp of the A&E by 2016, but in the interim an £800,000 extension is planned for early next year.
The £6m intensive care unit at the Manor has already been given the go ahead by council planners. A total of 110 workers will run the 16-bed ITU as part of expansion plans. The unit is combining the high dependency and critical care departments within the former West Wing. It is anticipated work will be carried out next year and take 12 months to finish. The ground floor refurbishment and extension will comprise eight single bedrooms and eight open bed bays. There are 65 full-time staff across the two units and under the proposals this will increase to 80 as part of the scheme.
To provide access to the main hospital street, and a new means of entry into the intensive care unit, a bridged link forms part of the development.
Health bosses in Walsall have put forward a bid to run services at Cannock Chase hospital after Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust which runs the site was deemed clinically and financially unstable by a health watchdog. Its proposals have included running day case surgery, outpatient and diagnostics along with elective orthopaedics at Cannock.
The Walsall trust has been in talks with New Cross in Wolverhampton over running services.
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