Government pumps in millions to build operating theatres at Queen Alexandra Hospital

MILLIONS of pounds will be pumped into Queen Alexandra Hospital to build two state-of-the-art operating theatres, it has been announced.

Wednesday, 28th March 2018, 1:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th March 2018, 9:30 am
Queen Alexandra is set to be boosted by the cash windfall Photo: Chris Ison/PA

The Department of Health and Social Care is spending almost £17.5m to bolster the county’s major medical facilities.

Awarded to the Solent Acute Alliance, a body which oversees the county’s hospitals and health sites, the money will be split between Portsmouth and Southampton.

In total it will fund the creation of four new operating theatres, an improved pharmacy hub for Hampshire and create an advanced digital service for outpatients and new mothers.

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Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, centre, with Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, left, and Havant MP Alan Mak, right

It’s hoped the additional cash will relieve strain on the county’s medical services, which have been struggling to cope with soaring patient demand.

Today’s revelation has been welcomed by politicians in the area, who have been lobbying health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to provide additional support to QA.

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, joined Havant’s MP Alan Mak yesterday in discussions with Mr Hunt.

Speaking of today’s investment, she said: ‘I’m delighted we have secured further funding for our area and new improvements will benefit many people in our region.’

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, centre, with Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, left, and Havant MP Alan Mak, right

Despite the additional cash, she added the campaign to improve QA could not slow, saying: ‘We must continue the drive to improve local services, and have further opportunities on the horizon, especially at the QA.’

The additional cash comes amid on-going efforts to tackle the surge in demand faced at both QA and Southampton General Hospital.

A lack of capacities at both hospitals have forced patients across Hampshire to turn to the private sector for treatment and operations.

Both hospitals and Solent Acute Alliance are outsourcing about 3,000 operations a year to private sites.

QA has two unused theatres that were built in 2009 but are yet to be kitted out.

By investing cash into equipping these ‘shell theatres’ the government estimates it would save the NHS £1.6m.

George Hollingbery, Meon Valley MP, said: ‘This substantial investment will improve patient services at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, particularly for people going for elective surgery as two unused theatres in the hospital built in 2009 will be brought into use. This will do much to tackle the backlog of operations at QA.

‘Everyone recognises there is pressure on the NHS and investment needs to be targeted in such a way to improve services while offering good value for money.

‘This investment in Portsmouth will have a positive effect on people across the south Hampshire area and is most welcome.’

Also outlined in today’s announcement were radical plans to revamp the county’s maternity care record.

The money will fund a digital service, which will allow expectant mothers and their carers to keep track of key information and milestones.

Outpatient services will also be streamlined as part of the digital overhaul, in a bid to cut the number of people unnecessarily visiting hospitals.

The government says the current system is ‘highly inefficient’ and ‘wastes’ the time of patients, clinicians and carers.

As part of the grand makeover, patients would be able to fill in digital forms and avoid the need to visit hospitals and GP surgeries, cutting overall waiting times and pressures on the NHS.

The government claims this could save the area £1,049,000 a year.

Under the new plans, Portsmouth Hospital Trust Regional Drug Procurement Centre will become the main hub for the storage and distribution of medical drugs to the health service across the county.

Government cash will help to pay for a new central building and upgraded systems by March 2020.

Alan Mak, Havant MP, said he was ‘delighted’ with the funding surge, adding: ‘While it’s important that extra money is invested in staff, NHS bosses should also keep looking at how new technology can make the organisation more efficient.

‘That’s why I am currently writing a report looking at how the NHS can best make use of artificial intelligence, new communication tools and personalised medicine to both improve care and save money.’

The report will be launched in early May.