A MAJOR £6.3million project to significantly increase the capacity of the Emergency Department at Warrington Hospital is set to begin this morning, Friday.

Ground will be broken to begin the six-month project, which will enable the hospital’s over-stretched department to more quickly see, treat, admit or discharge patients.

The Lovely Lane site has been increasingly challenged to meet A&E demand over the past few years as the town has expanded rapidly, putting significant strain on a service designed for 150 patients per day.

Like other trusts around the country emerging from the Covid pandemic, there is real pressure on the A&E department, which is regularly seeing in excess of 300 patients – double its capacity.

Professor Simon Constable, the hospital’s chief executive, said: “Much of the delay in the Emergency Department occurs when staff run out of space to assess patients.

“Many patients presenting now are very unwell and take longer to assess and initiate treatment, and as a result, long waiting times are sadly no longer unusual.

“The Emergency Department and specialist teams delivers exceptional care despite the pressures and could do more, and more quickly, with more space.

Work to begin on £6.3million expansion of A&E department at Warrington Hospital

Work to begin on £6.3million expansion of A&E department at Warrington Hospital

“This expansion will be a real boost to our capacity to assess patients and move them on to the next diagnostic or care setting.”

The ground floor of the 1,170sqm extension will be exclusively for patient care and will offer urgent ‘hot’ clinics, assessment areas, triage space, ambulatory care and primary care in the expanded and redesigned space.

The second floor will be home to administration, equipment and staff rest areas, which currently occupy valuable ground floor space in the existing emergency department. This space will now also be used for patients.

The expanded estate will also increase capacity to deliver acute care for patients in extreme health emergencies.

In addition to the new clinical and assessment space enabling a range of pathways to care, the extension will have a ‘high care’ area for patients presenting with high-risk respiratory and other serious symptoms.

Dan Moore, the hospital’s chief operating officer, added: “Although the new space will not be available until the spring, robust winter planning, coupled with the recent opening of a new 18-bed Enhanced Care Respiratory Unit, will support the trust to manage through any further Covid-19 or flu surges.

“The £6.3million investment supports an extension of the current Emergency Department footprint, which we believe is the best use of our aging estate within the available footprint.

Work to begin on £6.3million expansion of A&E department at Warrington Hospital

Work to begin on £6.3million expansion of A&E department at Warrington Hospital

“It will replace the temporary portacabin which currently houses our combined assessment unit, and enable a partial reconfiguration of Appleton Wing to maximise the limited space available.

“This is consistent with the trust’s commitment to make the best of its existing estate pending the development of a new hospital for the town and surrounding areas.”

The project will be managed by the trust’s own estates team, with the work carried out by health care construction specialists Tilbury Douglas Construction.

The project will have a number of phases, with mitigations put in place to minimise disruption to patients, staff and the local community. Ambulance access to the site will not be affected.

Any disruption to patients, staff and the local community will be advised in advance.

The side entrance to the orthopaedics unit will be closed during construction, but visiting patients and staff will be signposted to access the unit through the Burtonwood Wing Entrance.