Nurse doing a ward round in a hospital

NHS backlog to be tackled by new Berkshire hospital

A new ‘planned care’ hospital is due to open in Berkshire for non-emergency treatment, as the NHS seeks to tackle the treatment backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot will be part of Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust and will house six operating theatres, 48 inpatient beds and 22 day-case cubicles.

Focusing on cutting the wait times for routine care, staff will prioritise patients who have been waiting longest – including for orthopaedic and ophthalmology services.

The ‘planned care’ hospital will provide surgical, diagnostic and outpatient care for patients from across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey.

A range of outpatient services will be housed at Heatherwood Hospital, alongside gynaecology, urology and cardiology services.

There will also be services providing patients endoscopy, physiotherapy, phlebotomy and radiology checks and treatments on-site.

Published in February, the elective recovery plan outlined the NHS blueprint for tackling the treatment backlog built up during the pandemic, which included aims to increase diagnostic testing capacity over the next three years to 17 million tests.

Across the country, local NHS trusts are working internally and with partners to boost capacity to carry out as many routine tests, checks and treatments as possible – a key step in diagnosing patients.

This has included the establishing of one-stop shops for live-saving checks, and the further development of new surgical hubs introduced across the country to protect non-urgent care during the pandemic.

The new hospital in Ascot follows a range of other community initiatives introduced to help tackle the backlog and bolster diagnostic testing capacity, including one-stop diagnostic centres, same-day hip replacements and mobile CT and MRI scanners.

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.

“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.”

Neil Dardis, Chief Executive, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, added:  “This will be one of the best planned care hospitals in the NHS, using technology and innovation to provide the best treatments and experience for our patients.

“The entire building has been designed to provide easy, efficient and excellent care and help to reduce waiting times for patients needing planned procedures.

“Heatherwood Hospital is incredibly important to our community, and I’m so pleased for our teams to be working in such a fantastic facility that will greatly improve care for our patients.”

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NHE May/June 2024

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