New hospital aims to take some of the strain off Hampshire's NHS services

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A new hospital aimed at reducing patient waiting times and cutting the NHS backlog in Hampshire is set to open.

The ‘planned care’ Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot, Berkshire, will be dedicated to non-emergency treatment and will prioritise patients who have been waiting longest.

It will house six operating theatres, 48 inpatient beds and 22 day-case cubicles and provide surgical, diagnostic and outpatient care, treating patients across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey.

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It comes as figures showed staff absences in NHS hospitals in England due to Covid-19 have jumped more than 30 per cent week on week, the biggest increase since the start of the year.

A new hospital in Berkshire is hoped to take the strain off parts of the NHS in Hampshire, such as Queen Alexandra HospitalA new hospital in Berkshire is hoped to take the strain off parts of the NHS in Hampshire, such as Queen Alexandra Hospital
A new hospital in Berkshire is hoped to take the strain off parts of the NHS in Hampshire, such as Queen Alexandra Hospital

The News reported on Saturday that Hampshire health bosses said they had been pushed to the brink recently, with NHS services receiving an urgent call every 4.5 seconds in the county, at a time when staff sickness with Covid is biting.

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Earlier this month MPs heard a record number of people were waiting for hospital care after being referred for specialist care by their GP – some 6.1 million people in England alone.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: ‘This fantastic new facility shows how the NHS is adapting and changing to meet current demands – putting in practice what we learnt about planned care during the pandemic.

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“While new dedicated surgical hubs have been made available across the country to help protect non-urgent care, this hospital is the first purpose built facility aimed at tackling backlogs and getting quicker checks and treatments for patients who need routine care.’

The hospital will offer outpatient services such as gynaecology, urology and cardiology and patients will be offered endoscopy, physiotherapy, phlebotomy and radiology checks and treatments.

It will also offer potentially life-saving checks to thousands of patients through one stop diagnostic centres, same-day hip replacements and mobile CT and MRI scanners.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘This brand-new hospital will be the first of its kind on our road to recovery and reform, putting patients in need of non-urgent care first and helping them to get the checks and treatments they need.

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‘We are delivering on our promise to tackle the Covid backlogs by ramping up routine surgery and providing quicker diagnoses – alongside other initiatives which include new surgical hubs and community diagnostic centres, helping us to deliver nine million more treatments, scans and operations by 2024.’

NHS national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: ‘We continue to pull out all the stops to address Covid-19 backlogs in routine care that have inevitably built up, and this new hospital in Berkshire is a brilliant example of what we are doing to reduce long waits.

‘While seasonal pressures and Covid cases continue, we are determined to make the best possible use of the additional recovery investment, and ‘one-stop shops’, one-day hip replacements, and mobile CT and MRI scanners are just a snapshot of the initiatives our teams are driving forward to accelerate vital treatments, tests and checks for patients.’