South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust have unveiled the plans for their new £36m Eye Hospital in the centre of Sunderland.
The new hospital site is part of the city’s ambitious Riverside Sunderland redevelopment masterplan and will see the new facility improve the care being delivered by the current Sunderland Eye Infirmary.
The Sunderland Eye Infirmary is one of very few specialist eye hospitals and the only dedicated ophthalmology care centre in the region.
Widely regarded as an NHS centre of excellence for ophthalmology care, both regionally and nationally, it also acts as home to the Regional Cataract Treatment Centre and cares for patients from across the North East, Cumbria and beyond.
Currently, the hospital is housed in facilities which are 75 years old, with the aging infrastructure being costly to maintain and not being conducive to the world-leading treatments and care it is delivering.
As such, as part of the trust’s long-term strategic ambitions, and a close working partnership with Sunderland City Council, plans have been outlined for the new, fit-for-purpose Eye Hospital building.
Once built, all clinical services currently provided by the Sunderland Eye Infirmary will transfer to the state-of-the-art £36m facility, which is set to be located in a much more easily accessible city centre location.
Funding for the development has been provided by the local authority and will be repaid by the Trust to allow the relocation of the hospital to a much-improved city centre location.
Jean-Pierre Danjoux, Clinical Director for Ophthalmology Services and a Consultant Ophthalmologist, said: “Staff at the Eye Infirmary are absolutely thrilled at the prospect of a brand new hospital as there is no doubt that our current building is dated and no longer fit for purpose.
“The services we offer are nothing short of world class with outstanding patient feedback and they deserve an environment to match.
“Today’s news is testament to the perseverance and ingenuity of our leadership team, who, by working in partnership with the Council, are now turning our dream of a new facility into reality for patients.”
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS FT Chief Executive, Ken Bremner MBE, added: “Our ambitions for a new Eye Hospital in Sunderland have been a long time in the making. Announcing our development plans is a historic moment for the Trust and represents a major investment into the local NHS thanks to our collaboration with Sunderland City Council.
“In these uncertain times and especially as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, this is an extremely positive and welcome development and demonstrates our commitment to working with local partners to deliver the very best healthcare for the people we serve.
“We now look forward to involving patients, staff and the wider public in the design process ahead and as we work together to progress plans to the next stage.”
A series of virtual engagement sessions will take place over the coming weeks, with people able to find further details and book onto the sessions from the trust’s website.