£1.6m loan to be spent on opening ward at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
The trust running Shropshire’s two main hospitals will be given a £1.6 million loan which will be used to open a ward this winter at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
Matt Hancock has approved £184 million of capital loan funding, which will be shared between 13 NHS trusts and used for modernising equipment, refurbishing wards and ensuring the safety of buildings.
He says the money will go towards some of the most urgent hospital upgrades to protect vital frontline patient care.
Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs RSH and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, has secured a loan of £1,622,000.
The trust will use the money to complete fire safety works so that a 13 bed therapy-led ward, with an adjoining discharge lounge, can open at RSH.
It will open in the Copthorne Building in the New Year and will help to free up acute beds over the winter months.
Kath Preece, head of nursing for scheduled care at SaTH, said: “The ward is designed for patients who are coming towards the end of their treatment and therefore need less care, but are not yet ready to be discharged as they still need the input of a therapist.
“By providing that level of support on a specialist ward, we hope to be able to shorten the length of stay for the patient. That is obviously better for the patient, and will also allow us to free up more acute beds as we deal with the additional demand that we expect over the winter months.”
Paula Clark, chief executive at SaTH, said: “We are delighted to have secured this money from the government to complete the work to bring the Copthorne Building up to modern standards.
“During our redevelopment of the Copthorne Building, some issues were identified due to the age of the building, which dates back to the 1960s. Our estates team has been working hard with building control and fire regulators to address these issues.”
Mr Hancock says the loans will be vital in supporting hospital staff to provide the best quality care and reduce any safety or infrastructure risks.
It follows the approval of more than £70m in loans for NHS trusts by the Health Secretary in September.
Loans are issued at National Loan Fund rates, which means the cost is equivalent to the government’s cost of borrowing.
Mr Hancock, who visited the PRH in March, said: “These loans will make sure hospitals continue to deliver vital services to patients in buildings that are safe and have the right equipment to deliver world-class care.
“Since July, we have injected £4.8 billion capital funding into the NHS – helping refurbish hospital wards, replace old medical equipment and maintain NHS buildings.”
It comes after SaTH announced in May that it would be investing £32m in recruiting staff and improving ageing estates.
Mr Hancock also allowed the £312m Future Fit plans to go ahead earlier this month, following a formal challenge by Telford & Wrekin Council.
Shropshire’s emergency centre is to be based in Shrewsbury in the future, with PRH in Telford taking over responsibility for planned care.
In his decision, Mr Hancock asked NHS England to see if the urgent care centre planned to replace PRH’s full 24/7 A&E can be delivered through an ‘A&E Local’.
But it is not yet known what this will involve, with many campaigners fearing it will still lead to a downgrade of services.