Multimillion pound plans for major modernisation work on Doncaster's hospital buildings

Major plans are being drawn up which could transform and modernise Doncaster Royal Infirmary, its boss has revealed.

Monday, 4th June 2018, 10:10 am
Doncaster Royal Infirmary

Bosses at the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust are planning to apply for what is expected to run into tens of millions of pounds for what would be one of the biggest projects at the site in the last 50 years.

The scheme would seek to bring the building into the 21st century by improving aspects such as its wiring and its fire precautions, as well as providing modern new wards and centralising medical assessment teams alongside the A&E department.

Doncaster Royal Infirmary

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The Government had previously agreed to fund changes to A&E at the hospital subject to a final business plan, but the bosses have increased the scope of their plans.

A bid for funds is expected to be lodged with the Government in the summer, with a decision on whether the scheme gets the go-ahead expected to be made in the autumn.

It is one of a number of high profile NHS capital schemes which could boost healthcare in Doncaster. Others include plans for a new £7 million ambulance station development, a proposed scanner suite, and a new hyper acute stroke unit.

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The Government is due to announce three phases of its NHS capital allocation this year. A decision on the scanner and stroke units is expected next month after detailed business cases were submitted earlier this month, and an announcement is expected on the ambulance station later in the summer.

The hospitals trust's chief executive, Richard Parker, said: "There was a bid for the emergency department for the second phase of funding, but we are going to put a more substantial application for the third phase of announcements. There is no guarantee we will get the funding, but we feel that we have a very good case. Our case is for a substantial refurbishment of the DRI and Bassetlaw Hospital.

"We are hopeful that we will put forward a really strong bid. We have a site where a lot of the buildings are dating back from the 1950s. Our orthopedics department needs refurbished, as does the women's and children's block.

"We will bid by mid July, for money to be spent in 2019 to 2020."

The DRI had problems in November when power failed at part of the building, and had to use an emergency generator for several days until it could be fixed.

They recently had to build a new substation to cope with the increase in the demand for electricity compared to when the hospital was first built. Bosses are also looking again at fire procedures as part of a review following the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, when over 70 people died in a fire in a high rise block.

"In the 50s and 60s when the hospital was built, CT scans did not exist, and things like that use a lot of power," said Mr Parker.

Under the major revamp, the hospital would also look to move its A&E department and its clinical assessment centres, so that they were all in the same part of the hospital.

A&E would be placed alongside the assessment centres for the paediatric, medical, and surgical departments, so the staff, including doctors and nurse practitioners, could liaise closely.

At present, the four departments are scattered at locations around the hospital, and that means patients and staff have to walk long distances across the site to use facilities such as X-ray equipment. It is felt having them centrally would ease pressure on lifts on the site, and mean less travelling around the buildings, in turn cutting waiting times in stretched facilities such as A&E.

The proposal would see new buildings constructed in areas of the site which are currently not built on. The main hospital block would remain, and some services would be moved into new buildings to make way for the centralised A&E and assessment teams.

"We would be be reducing the number of people travelling through corridors," said Mr Parker.

Meanwhile, bosses are hoping to receive the green light for its scanner suite and hyper acute stroke unit in the next few weeks.

The scanner unit would house two scanners, one funding by the NHS and a second funded by the Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust, which has been raising money for the scheme. It is understood the charity now has the funds available for the scheme.

But the final announcement on the NHS funded scanner is expected imminently, after the detailed business case was put to ministers last week.

A single control room would operate both machines, said Mr Parker. The hospital's current scanner is close to the end of its working life.

He added having two scanners would mean that if one of them was not working at any point, there would still be one that could be used.

Financial vote of confidence

Doncaster Royal Infirmary has been handed a financial vote of confidence by the Government.

Ministers have removed a licence breach which had been hanging over the hospital since it was investigated after a £38 million black hole was found in its finances two years ago.

This year the trust his a Government target of a £16.4 million overspend, triggering the removed of the licence breach. On top of that, the trust will receive a £4.3million bonus payment for achieving targets, which means its accounts will show a funding account deficit of £11.4m, said Mr Parker.

Consultants boost

Doncaster's accident and emergency department cover could be boosted with the rectruitment of new consultants.

Chief executive Richard Parker said the trust was interviewing for three positions in the department in the next few weeks, which would potentially mean that all its A&E consultants posts were filled.

He said the staffing position in the department had improved in the last year.

But the trust is still struggling to fill all its doctors jobs in its paediatrics department, where one if four training posts for junior doctors are currently vacant, he added.