The next phase of the £30m project to build a new hospital in Berwick is due to commence week commencing Monday, June 21. This will involve the demolition of parts of the old infirmary, such as the theatre, day ward, reception, outbuildings and energy centre. The demolition work is expected to take four months to complete.
The new hospital, which will replace the existing 150-year-old infirmary, will provide a higher quality of care for those living in the area in an environment, enabling innovative and progressive care, as well as improving patient experience and wellbeing.
Patients are unable to stay overnight at the infirmary whilst the demolition work is carried out because there is a chance that the fabric of the old buildings contains the mould aspergillus. This has the ability to affect people who already suffer from underlying health conditions, and weakened immune systems. Aspergillus can also cause an infection that affects the respiratory system.
Patients will instead be care for at Alnwick Infirmary or in beds which will be relocated to a local care home.
Patients at the care home will be looked after by staff from Berwick Infirmary, and the clinical needs will be assessed to determine where patients are cared for. Patient transport will be provided if required.
While this phase of demolition work is done, the trust will also carry out some work on the Berwick hospital inpatient ward, which will include soundproofing and ventilation to protect patients from noise, vibration and dust as much as possible. This will mean that patients who need overnight care can continue to be looked after at Berwick Infirmary while the rest of the construction work is carried out.
CEO of the trust, Sir James Mackey, said: “It is fantastic that we are ready to begin the next phase of work to build our new hospital. This brings us one step closer to ensuring that those that live in Berwick and the surrounding areas will have access to higher quality healthcare.
“I am extremely proud that we are finally building our new hospital in Berwick and of the significant positive impact it will have. This is not only in relation to being able to have a more integrated approach to care, but also in terms of staff recruitment and retention, improving staff experience, supporting the economy and further opportunities for collaboration and partnership working.”
The minor injury unit (MIU), maternity and other outpatient department services at Berwick Infirmary will remain open. Oncology and some ambulatory care services will need to temporarily relocate to Alnwick Infirmary while this phase of demolition work is carried out.
Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals for the trust, and project lead, said: “I am thrilled that we are even closer to building our new hospital which is going to benefit our patients, staff and the local community in so many ways. We appreciate that having to temporarily relocate some of the services is not ideal, but we have worked very hard to look at options that keep these services either in or as close to Berwick as possible.
“Over the coming days and weeks, we will work closely with staff affected and we will be as flexible as we can be and also support staff as much as we can during this temporary period. The plan is that the majority of staff will continue to do their roles in Berwick. Only a small number, who already work at both Alnwick and Berwick Infirmaries, will need to spend more time working at Alnwick.
“I have been involved with this project for many years, and as a local Berwick resident I know how important having this new hospital is to people.”
“To ensure we have the space we need, we will have to temporarily reduce the number of beds on the ward to 16 until our new hospital is built and hope to be able to continue to use the relocated beds at the local care home during this time – keeping this vital hospital service in Berwick.”
All relocated services will return back to Berwick Infirmary once the demolition work is complete, which includes the reopening of the inpatient ward.