THE commencement of work on a £6.3million project to expand the Emergency Department in Warrington will not affect the aim for a new hospital.

Ground was broken this morning, Friday, on the six-month project, which will enable the hospital’s over-stretched A&E 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.

This is putting significant strain on a service designed for 150 patients per day, but which is treating more than 300 a day.

Despite the start of the expansion, which has been hailed as ‘game-changing’, there have been fears by some that this could mean that the town will not be getting a new hospital.

But these fears have been dispelled by senior management, who state that the expansion and a new hospital are compatible ambitions rather than competing.

Ground is officially broken as a project to expand the Emergency Depratment at Warrington Hospital begins

Ground is officially broken as a project to expand the Emergency Depratment at Warrington Hospital begins

Speaking to the Warrington Guardian after the ground breaking ceremony, Professor Simon Constable, the hospital’s chief executive, said: “The project will make a game-changing difference.

“It is a department at present built for half the patients we see, and what we are hoping to do is make it fit for the future in terms of how we currently worker our same-day emergency care.

“There are absolutely still plans for a new hospital. We submitted a bid in September to be one of eight new hospitals nationally, and that is being assessed as we speak.

“These things (the expansion and a new hospital) are not exclusive of each other.

“We need to continue to make the best use of the estate that we currently have and look after it until we have an alternative.

“The timelines of these things are very different, and we have many more winters to get through before a new Warrington Hospital is likely.”

The Emergency Department at Warrington Hospital

The Emergency Department at Warrington Hospital

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, and as well as increasing capacity, the expansion will also allow a flexible dedication of patients to different units at the Lovely Lane site.

“Warrington is a growing town, but sometimes it is not just about numbers,” Simon added.

“It is about the severity of the illness of the patients presenting, and that is very different now than what it would have been 10 or 20 years ago.

“Patients tend to be sicker with more medical conditions, and the more minor illnesses and injuries that can be treated elsewhere in other units, the better.”