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£3m Shrewsbury hospital ward opening delayed by fire regulations

A new £3m ward designed to help ease winter pressures at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is not currently in use because it does not meet fire safety and building regulations.

The ward, announced last September, was planned to relieve pressure on the hospital’s A&E services, but suspected regulation failings of the building means it is instead being used as a discharge lounge for patients.

‘Ward 35’ was previously an unused space in the hospital dating back to the 1960s, with its new repurposed design adding an extra 28 beds to the hospital when it opened in February.

But fire regulation issues with the building were raised during a Shropshire CCG meeting earlier this week, and the building is currently being used as a discharge lounge until regulators sign off on approval.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which has been hit with a number of scandals, received £3m of funding to put the new ward into action, and the trust has said it is addressing the current issues.

Nigel Lee, the chief operating officer at SaTH, said some of the problems had come from the historic nature of the building and that whilst the trust had been unable to utilise the ward for its intended purpose, it had been able to provide the expected capacity over winter.

“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.

He added: “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.

“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.”

The meeting also heard that there may not be enough staff to run the new ward, but Lee stated: “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.”

SaTH was rated as ‘inadequate’ by the CQC in November, and a review panel set up by NHS Improvement to review the findings of an investigation into hundreds of baby deaths was disbanded earlier this month.

A major shake-up of hospital services in Shropshire is currently underway, despite fierce criticism for the “fatally flawed” and “harmful” ‘Future Fit’ plans.


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