ONE of the problems with getting older is you seem to need the services of the NHS more and more.

I went years without having to set foot inside a hospital then suddenly found myself having to go there more than I would have liked.

There was the lump in my arm I had to have removed. (Fortunately it was benign but the scar the operation left does make me look like I’ve been in a knife fight.) Then there was the CT scan on my head after a series of mystifying headaches. (The headaches have stopped and apparently my brain is in good condition although others may disagree.) This was followed by the trip to A&E after getting a splinter of glass in my foot.

My most recent visit to Warrington General was an appointment with a consultant in the ophthalmology department after an over-enthusiastic optician thought he could see something wrong with my optic nerve during a routine eye test.

Happily, as the consultant put it, the optician had seen something that just wasn’t there and my eyes were given a clean bill of health.

I know the NHS is under-funded and under stress but in all of my dealings with it, I have been treated promptly by professionals and I have no complaints – even my wait at A&E wasn’t that bad in the great scheme of things.

But, and this is a fairly significant but, the actual buildings at Warrington are showing their age.

The Kendrick Wing where the ophthalmology department is housed looks like a Victorian workhouse and it was the part of the hospital that caught fire last week.

Not all my treatments took place at Warrington however. The operation to remove the lump in my arm was conducted at the relatively modern Halton Hospital in Runcorn and a very nice place it is in comparison to Warrington.

Patently I am a patient, not an NHS expert but if either of those two buildings needed demolishing and replacing with a new, state-of-the-art building, my money would be on Warrington.

Imagine my surprise this week when I came across the announcement that ‘ambitious plans’ to completely redevelop the Runcorn hospital and transform it into an ‘integrated community resource’ have been revealed to staff.

Medical facilities will be located beside community resources – all on one site within walking distance.

The current hospital and nearby Brooker Centre will be demolished and the new hospital will increase in size to 27,100 square metres up from 25,000 square metres The wellbeing campus will include an intermediate care and rehabilitation centre for patients recovering from surgery and strokes.

A leisure and sports centre with a swimming pool and a community centre with arts and crafts facilities will be available to help people to recuperate.

A woodland walk, allotments, community and pets garden, reflection gardens and a water feature will also help to create a relaxing environment to improve mental health.

Members of the public will be able to share all the facilities on the wellbeing campus and a nursing home is to be built beside a nursery to bring children and older people together.

And how much is all of this going to cost? Halton Hospital has submitted a bid to NHS England for £40m of funding and it is estimated the full cost of the campus will cost at least £53 million.

Let me make a suggestion here.

If there are millions of pounds of funding sloshing about the NHS system, spend it where it’s really needed, not on some politically correct ‘Healthy New Towns’ scheme.

Some of Warrington Hospital’s buildings are way past their best. Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust should be looking for funding to build a new hospital in Warrington, not Runcorn.

I can’t help but feel the people of Warrington are being sold a little short here.

We deserve a 21st century medical facility, not being treated in 19th century buildings.