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Gloucestershire hospitals set for £101m upgrade

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has revealed a £100m-plus investment to modernising buildings, transforming services and providing better patient care at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals.

The trust said money is being spent on delivering ground-breaking services and establishing centres of excellence across a range of specialities replicating the success of cancer care and The Oncology Centre at Cheltenham which has a renowned reputation locally, regionally and nationally.

Clinicians add that the investment will provide the next generation of care for the county's patients and will improve patients' outcomes, help reduce waiting times, ensure fewer operations are cancelled, enable more patients to receive the right care at the right time in the right place, enhance safe staffing levels and attract and retain the very best staff.

Improvements at Cheltenham General Hospital include:

  • Two new operating theatres opposite the Oncology Centre providing capacity to treat an additional 3,000 patients a year
  • A new purpose-built Day Surgery Unit enabling a greater number of day case operations
  • Extensive refurbishment of the Radiology Department and installation of new CT scanners, MRI scanner and greatly enhanced patient environment meaning emergency patients accessing the town's A&E will benefit from faster, more accurate and better diagnostic tests such as X-rays and MRI scans
  • A new CT scanner and improved patient area in radiotherapy enhancing further the Oncology Department's outstanding reputation
  • The establishment of a new Interventional Radiology room (spoke) to provide specialist support to Urology and Oncology services.

Improvements at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital include:

  • A significant extension and redesign of the Emergency Department to improve patient flow along with improved Mental Health provision
  • The extension of the Acute Medicine Initial Assessment (AMIA) area which provides an improved same day emergency care provision
  • The extension of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit. This will increase the bed space by 17 beds and enable the centralisation of acute medicine at GRH
  • The conversion of non-clinical space within Gallery Wing to create a new 24 bed ward
  • Establishing surgical robotics across oesophagus, stomach and gall bladder patients (upper gastrointestinal tract) with a multi-speciality programme commencing shortly
  • The establishment of a pioneering hub to house image guided interventional surgery which will make Gloucestershire amongst the best in the country for providing the full range of interventional radiology (using Imaging equipment (X-rays and Ultrasound)) to guide surgical procedures across a range of specialities).

Digital upgrades are being rolled out across both hospitals - reducing paperwork, freeing back time to clinicians to care and making patient information more joined up, accurate and easy to access.

A range of green technologies including a heating system upgrade and pipe insulation, installation of solar panels on roofs and installation of a new battery storage system to the hospitals' electrical distribution network are also being installed.

A significant proportion of the funding, £39.5m, has been awarded by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care. It has been allocated under the Gloucestershire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP). To realise the full potential of this building works programme, the Hospitals Trust said it has invested an additional £5m from its capital allocation.

Building works on the £44.5m programme started this month (August 2021) and are due to be completed in summer 2023. Other improvement works totalling £55.5m across both sites are said to be running in parallel.

Deborah Lee, chief executive, said: "This investment really does give us an opportunity to provide the next generation of care at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals in line with our vision for centres of excellence.

"At the heart of our ambition is to establish ground-breaking specialist services across both our hospitals. At Cheltenham there will be a greater focus on planned care modelled on the outstanding service already provided by our cancer services and in particular The Oncology Department. At Gloucester we will establish specialist services with a greater focus on urgent and emergency care.

"The opportunities for our staff and patients in delivering this vision are considerable with many specialist services rivalling and exceeding those found only in university hospitals in big metropolitan cities."

Professor Mark Pietroni, medical director, added: "What we want to establish are services that perform exceptionally well so when any member of your family needs specialist care, patients can access that care here in Gloucestershire without having to travel to Oxford, Bristol or Birmingham. We want them to get the very best outcome possible for them. That's what really matters to patients and this announcement gives us the best opportunity to realise that vision."

Simon Lanceley, director of Strategy and Transformation, said: "With our clinical strategy now defined through the Fit for the Future programme, a greater focus on emergency care at Gloucestershire Royal and a greater focus on planned care and oncology at Cheltenham General, we are able to make these significant investment decisions to ensure our clinical teams and therefore our patients have access to the latest equipment and technology on the site it is needed. The £44.5m estates programme will improve significant areas of our estate to match our centres of excellence vision, but there is more we want to do to at both hospital sites and we will continue to seek additional investment."

Mark Hutchinson, chief information officer said: "Our digital hospitals programme is about realising the benefits of technology and delivering better care for our patients. In improving the digital maturity of the organisation we will free up clinicians' time to care, make patient information instantly available and reduce duplication. We've already made significant progress and this is set to continue over the coming years."

Keith Hamer, managing director of Gloucestershire Managed Services (GMS) which helps to manage the hospitals' estate, said the green funding would help the hospitals to make significant inroads on its carbon emissions.

"Although COVID has been the focus of our attention over the last 18 months, and rightly so, the climate emergency has not gone away and initiatives like these will help to make our hospital more sustainable for the future. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to lead the way on some of this work and help make an impact for the better," he said.

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