Plans for £20m ‘A&E department of the future’ unveiled in Durham

UNDER PRESSURE: The University Hospital of North Durham is handling twice as many patients as it was designed to cope with.
UNDER PRESSURE: The University Hospital of North Durham is handling twice as many patients as it was designed to cope with.
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HEALTH bosses have announced plans to build a £20m ‘accident and emergency department of the future’ to meet a surge in demand at a Durham hospital.

Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is pressing ahead with the A&E revamp at the University Hospital of North Durham as the facility is receiving 60,000 patients a year - double the amount it was built for.

We are seeing a significant increase in attendances year on year and are faced with an ageing population with more complex needs.

Durham and Darlington NHS FOundation Trust

Health chiefs want to demolish the Grade II-listed but now derelict Dryburn House, opposite the A&E entrance, replacing it with a health hub for urgent and emergency care.

Funding for the multi-million-pound project could come from a private finance initiative.

The trust has asked Durham County Council for permission to demolish Dryburn House, with a decision expected in May.

A Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust spokeswoman said: “The pressures facing the emergency department at the University Hospital are well documented and are echoed nationally.

“We are seeing a significant increase in attendances year on year and are faced with an ageing population with more complex needs.

“What we have been working on is what an emergency department of the future would look like, and what we need to do in terms of our existing infrastructure to support such a development.

“In Durham, many options have been considered to increase the size and capacity of the department while also facilitating ‘a department of the future’.

“Our vision would be to have a department, with a single point of access, which combines the high-tech facilities necessary in an ED department, but which is housed together with other support services and social care services to enhance integration between ‘hospital and home’ and community care.

“Our planning is also taking into account the best configuration of services so that patients have an improved experience with seamless pathways between assessment areas and diagnostics through the emergency department.

“To support these clinical plans we need to consider what this means for our infrastructure and estate.

“Over the past few months the Trust has been in discussion with Durham County Council and English Heritage and has submitted a planning application for the demolition of Dryburn House.

“We are sympathetic to the historical links this building has with the city, but the building itself is in a very poor condition.

“We believe building a new ED department onto the front of the existing building into the space where Dryburn House currently stands would provide us with the department we envisage.

“Submitting this planning application is only an early stage in our plans, and dependent on the outcome of this we still need to take these plans before the Board.”