£3 million ward at Shrewsbury hospital hits delays over building regulations
A new £3 million ward designed to help ease winter pressure at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital has not been fully opened because it does not yet meet building and fire regulations, it has been confirmed.
The ward was announced last September with Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) receiving £3m of funding to put it in place.
It was to be used to relieve pressure on A&E by providing extra capacity with 28 new beds.
It has emerged that because of issues with the building regulations the ward is currently being used as a "discharge lounge", until regulators sign off on an approval to use it for its original purpose.
Nigel Lee, chief operating officer at SaTH said some of the problems had come from the historic nature of the building, which was constructed in the 1960s.
Mr Lee said that despite not being able to utilise the ward for its original purpose the trust had been able to provide the "expected capacity" over winter.
He said: “Some issues have been identified within the building which houses Ward 35. The building dates back to the 1960s, and our estates team is working hard with building control and fire regulators to address these issues.
“It is important to stress that, in terms of winter capacity, SaTH has provided the expected capacity – and above expected capacity at peak times – for patients needing urgent care.
“We have provided appropriately staffed capacity to meet patient needs and our commissioners and other partners have been fully involved in capacity and demand planning across the whole health and care system.
“Regulators are satisfied with current limited occupancy of the ward and we are making good use of this to support earlier patient discharge and improve flow from A&E."
Mr Lee was not able to confirm when the trust hopes the ward to be fully operational, as originally intended.
He said: “We are working closely with the experts to confirm any additional works necessary, and complete them as quickly as possible with minimum disruption to services.”
The trust has faced considerable difficulties in meeting A&E targets in recent months with the latest figures for February showing that only 66.4 per cent of patients were treated or admitted within four hours of their arrival at the hospital.
The average across England is 84.2 per cent.