Multimillion pound Sunderland hospital gets go ahead

Artist's impression of the new facility
Artist's impression of the new facility
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MULTIMILLION pound plans to build a new hospital and hospice have been given the green light.

Work can now start on the 140-bed mental health hospital and 30-space hospice on the former Ryhope General Hospital site.

The centres will replace the Ryhope Cherry Knowle psychiatric facility and Monkwearmouth’s St Benedict’s Hospice. Planners said work could be complete within 18 months.

Labour councillor Roselind Copeland said: “It is fantastic news that we are finally going to get the new hospital we were promised when Prince Charles came to visit (in 2004).

“I’m really please we are now getting the facility we have waited for for so long.”

Ryhope councillor Ellen Ball, also Labour, added: “I’m just over the moon the new hospital is coming on site.”

The councillors were speaking at a planning committee, where proposals were unanimously voted for by members from all parties.

The £12million hospice will include 14 inpatient beds and provision for 16 patients in its day care facility, boosting specialist care for people in Wearside with terminal illnesses.

It will accommodate all of the specialist services housed in the existing hospice, including inpatient beds, day care, outpatient services, a number of community nursing teams and an education centre.

Planners said in their report: “The aim of the Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust is to provide high-quality physical, psychological, social and spiritual care for both patients and their families.”

The hospice will improve choice for patients at the end of life, helping to deliver community-based services and preventing unnecessary hospital visits.

Sheila Alexander, NHS South of Tyne and Wear’s strategic lead for planned care, said work would now start on site.

She said: “This decision represents a big step forward in the relocation of such an important service.

“The facility will be the first purpose-built hospice for the residents of Sunderland and will provide a modern state-of-the-art facility for one of the most vulnerable patient groups.

“The timescales for the project have been exceptionally challenging but we have worked closely with our project partners to help progress this exciting work. We are looking forward to the next stage of development.”

The hospital will provide single ensuite rooms for patients suffering from severe mental illnesses, as well as hi-tech facilities and medical care.

The former Ryhope General Hospital has been demolished to make way for the new complex, which will replace Cherry Knowle.

The Ryhope site has been used to provide mental health care to people in Sunderland since the late 19th century.

Patients will remain at Cherry Knowle until the new hospital is completed. It is hoped the new facility will open by summer 2014.

Councillors were told the NHS could now start building work almost immediately, subject to meeting conditions, and construction project could take between 12 to 18 months.

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