Delight as new £1 million eye department opens at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
A new £1 million eye department at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is a "breath of fresh air" for patients, staff have said.
Adult ophthalmology outpatient appointments and the urgent eye clinic moved from Clinic 10 to the nearby Copthorne Building at the hospital on Monday.
Ophthalmology had been housed in temporary accommodation at Clinic 10 for the last 20 years.
The creation of the new eye department has brought a number of benefits to patients including modern facilities, new equipment and increased capacity meaning more patients will be able to be treated each year.
Tony Fox said: "Ophthalmology has been in temporary accommodation for longer than I remember.
"This move is the start of a longer journey to provide the best facility for patients. There are bigger plans. We would like to develop the old labour ward into a local anaesthetic cataract surgery site.
"Clinic 10 was not fit for purpose - there were concerns about patient dignity, difficulties attracting new staff and other risks and issues.
"This is one of the busiest outpatient departments and yet it had seen a lack of investment for so long.
"The new department has cost about £1 million because we used vacant maternity buildings - it would have cost about £4 million for a brand new building.
"It has been an immense team effort but it is great to finally get into the new department."
Mr Fox said the department previously had trouble recruiting.
He said: "We are currently about three whole time equivalent consultants short. We have also had nursing and middle grade challenges.
"Now we have this new facility we are hoping to have a big push on recruitment. We are now in a much better place."
More than 20,000 outpatient eye appointments were missed or cancelled at the trust last year.
It had been taking 56 days for a patient referred by a GP to be contacted by the trust’s Clinic 10 eye unit.
Andrew Evans, operational manager for ophthalmology, said: "The patients are all very excited about the new department. It is a breath of fresh air and has made such a difference.
"Waiting times have now come down to the lowest they have been in two years."
Jennifer Nosek, ophthalmology nurse practitioner, said: "It is a fantastic space. It has a light and airy feeling. It has created a much better flow and a larger environment.
"Patients no longer have to look around for seating space and there is so much more treatment rooms. We can see patients a lot quicker now in a better space.”