Express & Star

Valerie Vaz MP: Walsall deserves long-overdue emergency care centre

The new emergency care centre at Walsall's Manor Hospital has been more than a decade in the making. Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz explains why its opening is so important for people in the borough.

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Valerie Vaz at the new emergency care centre at Walsall Manor Hospital

My constituents will be well served by the opening of the impressive new Urgent and Emergency Care Centre at Walsall Manor Hospital – a project I have long supported and worked for.

The bare bones of the building I viewed from under my hard hat in February 2022 are complete a year later. The project is now open for business and has received positive feedback from those who use it and work in it following its opening on March 2.

The last Labour government massively upgraded the Manor’s facilities and buildings but since my election in 2010 there have been substantial pressures on services. The then Chief Executive of the Manor, Richard Kirby, informed me that the A&E was designed to serve a population of around 80,000.

By 2013 the A&E was serving approximately three times that with the additional pressure from the closure of Stafford Hospital’s A&E Department in 2012. This put significant strain on capacity at the A&E.

I requested the funding in the House of Commons in January 2014 when I raised the impact of Stafford A&E’s closure on Walsall. I also wrote to the Prime Minister Theresa May to ask for funding for new emergency facilities and met with the Health Secretary to support the hospital’s funding application.

As a member of the Health Select Committee and with my colleagues Jeremy Lefroy and David Winnick, we championed the request for an expanded A&E at every opportunity in Parliament and in meetings. I am pleased that these conversations helped to build the case to secure £40 million for the construction.

The opening of the A&E is a testament to the hard work of the NHS staff and those who have brought this project to completion. These are the same staff who worked tirelessly during Covid on the frontline, and we remember that the Manor’s Areema Nasreen was one of the first NHS nurses to die at the start of the pandemic.

Walsall deserves this long overdue state-of-the-art Urgent and Emergency Care Centre.