A £50 million investment will deliver enhanced new facilities and equipment for NHS patients in Devon.
The Government money, part of a £963 million national package designed to modernise and transform services, will fund four key projects in Devon.
Devon’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) applied for the money and today (7 December 2018) has been awarded £50.51 million for the following:
- £29.7 million for a new urgent and emergency care hub at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, to replace emergency department and acute assessment unit.
- £8 million for a new adult mental health ward in Torbay for services provided by Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which will reduce out-of-Devon placements
- £9.3 million for two new MRI scanners Derriford Hospital and a new CT scanner at North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple
- £3.5 million for digital histopathology (testing of body tissues for diseases, for example biopsies) equipment at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth to benefit hospitals and patients across Devon and Cornwall.
John Dowell, Chief Financial Officer for Devon’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and chair of the STP estates group, which oversaw the bid submissions, said: “This is fantastic news for people in Devon. This huge investment in new facilities and technology supports the ambitions of the Devon Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and will make a real difference to patients and NHS staff across the county.
“We will be able to improve emergency care facilities in Plymouth, enhance mental health provision to reduce the need for people to travel outside Devon for treatment and improve diagnostic capability in Devon and Cornwall.
“We look forward to bringing these projects to fruition as soon as possible and seeing the benefits they will bring.”
At Derriford Hospital, the £29.7 million will be used to build a state-of-the art integrated facility, replacing the existing Emergency Department, which was built in the 1970s to treat 120 patients a day but now regularly sees more than 300 people per day.
The new Urgent and Emergency Care Hub will have dedicated areas for children, for patients with frailty, ambulatory care – patients who need urgent care but do not necessarily need to be admitted – and a dedicated area that offers privacy and dignity for ambulances to drop patients off.
Anne Hicks, consultant at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, said: “We’re over the moon. What this will give us is space to care. That’s really important in being able to offer people the highest standard of care in an environment that gives them privacy and dignity. As a major trauma centre, we will have state-of-the-art resuscitation facilities; a purpose-built frailty unit with rapid early specialist medical and social assessment and intervention. This will help avoid admitting older people, helping them get back home quickly with the right support care in place.”
The new £8 million adult mental health ward in Torbay will provide essential extra capacity for people who need inpatient care and will reduce the need to send people out of Devon for treatment.
Melanie Walker, Chief Executive of Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which provides mental health services, said: “Today’s announcement is great news and a major step in the right direction. The funding will enable us to proceed with our plans to build a brand new, 16-bed ward in Torbay – which is the area of the county where we have the greatest need for additional inpatient capacity.
“Our proposal is for the new ward to be located close to our existing wards for adults and older people on the Torbay Hospital site, and we are keen to proceed with the project as quickly as possible. As well as providing a safe, high quality environment for people who require a spell of care in hospital, the new ward will mean that more people can be treated close to home – which is one of our leading priorities.”
Patients who need diagnostic imaging tests in the future will benefit after a joint £9.3million bid by Derriford Hospital and North Devon District Hospital for new scanners was successful. The investment will see two new 3Tesla MRI scanners installed in Plymouth and a CT scanner installed at North Devon District Hospital.
Jill Canning, deputy chief operating officer at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news. CT scanners are a vital piece of equipment we use to provide a diagnosis for many of our patients and the number of people being referred to us for diagnostic tests has increased significantly in recent years.
“This additional CT scanner will help us to meet the growing demand using the best technology available, meaning we will be able to provide our patients with a timely diagnosis. Addressing our waiting lists and times is an absolute priority for us and the new CT scanner will help us as we continue to make progress.”
A further £3.5 million is being invested in the digitisation of histopathology services to support service sustainability and transformation across the south west peninsula. Digitising slides that pathologists normally view through a microscope will improve efficiency and productivity.
It means Devon’s four hospitals – Derriford in Plymouth; Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, in Exeter; Torbay Hospital; and North Devon District Hospital – and Cornwall will be able to support each other by remotely reporting some of their slides. Across the peninsula, staff will be able to share capacity for urgent, specialist and routine work more effectively.
Histopathology is used in diagnosing disease and is the microscopic examination of biological tissues to observe the appearance of diseased cells and tissues.
Nationwide, 75 schemes will receive funding to transform and modernise NHS services by upgrading facilities, increasing capacity so more people can be treated, and shifting the emphasis towards prevention. This includes mental health and new ‘wrap-around’ integrated care services in the community.