Great Western Hospital in Swindon, which takes about a quarter of its patients from Wiltshire, has won extra funding to improve and expand its emergency care services.
It has been obvious for many years that GWH has not been funded to keep up with the increased demand from Swindon’s fast growing population. Its Emergency Department (or A&E Department) was designed for 48,000 patients a year – eighteen years later it is now coping with 84,000 patients a year.
It was nearly two years ago that GWH submitted plans for a new and enlarged Emergency Department and was assured of £29.6million to meet the costs. This sum was agreed by the Department of Health, but despite spending money on planning for this development, the money is still to be ‘unlocked’.
Now, however, as part of the government’s new spending ahead of this winter’s pressures, five NHS hospital trusts in the south-west are receiving £29.7million – with GWH getting £5million this year as the first tranche toward another new project.
Kevin McNamara is GWH’s Chief Executive: “I’m delighted that we’ve been successful in our bid for £15 million of funding to improve urgent and emergency care at the Great Western Hospital.”
“We will use this money to replace the Urgent Care Centre, with a new Urgent Treatment Centre, led by GPs and Advanced Clinical Practitioners.”
“The temporary building which houses the Urgent Care Centre (known as the Clover building), will be replaced with a larger building with an area for initial assessments to decide if patients need urgent or emergency care, additional clinic rooms and more space for a socially distanced waiting area.”
“We’ve known for a long time that our hospital is simply too small, which is why we successfully bid for £30 million of funding to expand and improve services as part of our Way Forward Programme, and this additional funding will complement this work.”
“We are currently working with national organisations to unlock the funding for the Way Forward Programme, which will be used to integrate and co-locate our urgent and emergency care services, build a new rehabilitation centre, carry out improvements to the services we provide for private patients, and buy the extra land we need to do all of this.”
“Today’s announcement is great news for the people of Swindon and the surrounding area, and I can’t wait for work to start so that we can offer our patients an even better urgent and emergency care service when they need it.
The new £15 million funding will be released over two years, with £5 million in 2020/21 and the rest the following year.
It has been estimated that between 2001 and 2031 Swindon’s population will have grown by 47 per cent. On that basis GWH calculated in 2018 that if they did nothing about changing the hospital and providing more beds, by 2031 they would need another 232 beds. In ‘normal times’ GWH has about 400 beds.