Sunderland Royal Hospital announces expansion plans to tackle A&E crisis

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PLANS have been revealed for a new multi-million-pound emergency department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

When built, the proposed A&E will be one of the most advanced emergency departments in the region and boost staff numbers by 35.

City Hospitals Sunderland have applied for planning permission from Sunderland City Council for the proposed five-storey A&E department.

If given the go-ahead, work will start in the spring, with the new department expected to open in 2016.

The existing A&E department, which dates back to 1978, is said to be no-longer be fit for purpose.

It is hoped that the new development will help to alleviate pressure on the Royal’s A&E department, after chiefs said admissions had risen between seven and eight per cent over the past year whereas nationally there has only been a rise of between three to five per cent.

Issues such as having to deal with a broader range of health issues, an ageing population, and a shortage of doctors willing to work in A&E have all contributed to the increase.

A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: “The new department will be one of the most advanced emergency departments in the region, offering patients the highest quality of technology and staffing, to meet the demands of ever-increasing patient numbers and the pressures of the growing elderly population.”

The build will be completed in three phases, beginning with the refurbishment of two existing wards and an extension to the front of the building to provide the new paediatric emergency department entrance.

The second phase will see the refurbishment of the existing emergency department.

A new five-storey extension will be added to the front of the building.

During this phase the newly refurbished paediatric area will be used as a temporary emergency department.

Phase 3 includes the construction of a glazed entrance canopy, with the adult emergency department temporarily providing emergency care for all patients.

Once complete, the adult and children’s emergency department will be completely separate.

To cater for the increase in patients, staff numbers will be boosted.

Medical staff during any 24-hour period will increase from 30 to 35, adult nursing staff from 95 to 120, and paediatric nursing staff from 25 to 30.

Union leaders have welcomed the plans.

“I don’t think there has been any modernisation done in A&E at Sunderland for years,” said Ann Clay, Unison branch secretary for Wearside health.

“I hear a lot of people when they see things like saying “why are they spending money in this financial climate?” but this is something that is needed for the people of Sunderland.

“It will give us the chance to be able to deal with things better.”