New Women and Children’s hospital will open in 2028
By Lee Trewhela LDRS Reporter
8th Jun 2023 | Local News
As more details of the new Women and Children's Hospital in Cornwall were released yesterday (Wednesday, June 7), the hospital's chief executive has stressed that the £291m programme will definitely take place and Government won't make a U-turn, with the work already underway.
Construction of the new Women and Children's Hospital at Treliske, Truro, will start in 2025 following confirmation by the Secretary of State for Health last month that all New Hospital Programme 'Cohort 2' schemes can proceed.
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) issued a computer-generated 3D film of how the new state-of-the-art Women and Children's Hospital could look when built, which you can watch above. The new Women and Children's Hospital, which has had a long gestation, will become the new Main Entrance for the Royal Cornwall Hospital once construction is finished in 2028.
Designed by Architects Stride Treglown, RCHT will now work with BAM Construction Ltd, to develop the full business case for the programme of works, which should be ready for HM Treasury sign off by the end 2024, with main construction works due to start in 2025.
The hospital will bring together services for women and children in one dedicated building, featuring maternity services, neonatal care, paediatric care, and obstetric and gynaecology services. The new hospital is being built between, and will be connected to, the existing Tower Block and Trelawny Wing. Key features include consultant and midwife-led birthing suites, a more spacious neonatal intensive care unit, transitional care facilities with family rooms and a dedicated day assessment unit for maternity patients.
Services will be more appropriately located together. For example, there will be dedicated operating theatres supporting paediatric and gynaecological surgery, which will be located adjacent to the existing main and emergency theatres in Trelawny Wing. A dedicated paediatric assessment unit will also be located on the ground floor, closer to the existing paediatric emergency department, and these changes will significantly improve the patients' experience, as well as making it easier for clinical staff to work together more effectively in a multi-disciplinary team. The programme will also see the construction of a new pathology building.
RCHT chief executive Steve Williamson told us: "It's going to be fantastic – the concept goes back five years. I think this is the single biggest investment ever in a hospital or healthcare in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, so it's really significant. It will deliver a dedicated hospital facility for women's and children's services. At the moment, some of the services are in different parts of the Royal Cornwall Hospital campus. The whole lot will come together. Some of our facilities are very dated so it will transform all of that."
There has been some criticism of the Government calling many of these projects, for new wings and wards which were mooted years ago, 'new hospitals' to excite voters. Does Mr Williamson consider it an actual new hospital?
"It is part of the new hospital programme, so that's the position nationally with the NHS, and this is one of the significant investments within that. It is absolutely a new hospital for women and children's services. It will be a dedicated building for all those services – neo-natal intensive care, outpatients, birthing suites, paediatric wards, six new theatres and everything else that goes with that. It is also the case that the new hospital facility will be on the Royal Cornwall Hospital site and connected into the other parts of the hospital."
There's no way the Government can pull that £291m now then?
"We've been asked that a number of times. I'm confident with the announcement by the Secretary of State for Health that this project has been approved to proceed. We're already under way. There are £25m of works that we're already doing. There's still some process to go through, in terms of final business cases being signed off by Treasury, but that's normal due diligence. We're full steam ahead."
Will this take some of the much-reported pressure off Treliske?
"There will be some capacity benefits. We'll be able to treat and see more paediatric surgery cases than we currently have within our capacity. The paediatric assessment unit, which has close links with the Emergency Department, will work really well to support and manage flow. The new pathology facility will improve our ability to process pathology cases which will have a broader impact on the whole of the organisation.
"Even though the Women and Children's Hospital is amazing, there are some other things too – next week we're opening our new MRI cancer centre which will improve and increase our cancer capability, which is fantastic, and later on this year we'll start rolling out digital patient records. In different ways, both of those things will impact on improving patient flow through the hospital."
Mr Williamson added that one of the "downsides" is that the hospital campus will be a "building site for the next five years" but the end product will make up for that. Part of the funding includes provision for the demolition of the current Princess Alexandra Maternity Wing, to make way for a new multi-storey car park, which has yet to receive funding.
The new main entrance for the Royal Cornwall Hospital will be provided in a light and airy atrium which will include a staffed reception desk, self-service check-in kiosks with digitally-enabled directions, a large retail pharmacy outlet, a new café, wheelchair and buggy storage, patient toilets and family rooms including a Changing Places Facility, and quiet rooms for baby change and feeding for new parents.
The £291million full programme of work includes several enabling projects, the most significant being the construction of a new pathology building to the west of the existing Trelawny Wing.
To support the new Women and Children's Hospital, and the general development of the overall hospital site into the future, an increase in electrical capacity will be provided via an additional main power supply cable. Other enabling works include the relocation of the existing cardiac department out of the Link Corridor area of the site to a new base in Trelawny Wing, the temporary relocation of the retail pharmacy and the re-provision of car parking spaces impacted by the building works. The enabling works projects will need to be completed before construction starts on the main Women and Children's Hospital.
Some early work has already started on the overall programme, with the demolition of six decommissioned houses on Penventinnie Lane to create the construction site compound to support BAM during the main construction phase. Work has also started on the re-provision of the car parking spaces in advance of the construction of the pathology building. These will be in place by December 2023. The relocation of the remaining clinical services out of the footprint of the planned new hospital will start by the end of 2023 and complete during 2024.
Jon Clarke, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and joint clinical director of the Women and Children's Care Group, added: "Our geographical isolation means that many of those working at the hospital are also parents to children born here, and many of us have relatives who have had children, or mothers, cared for here in Truro. It means so much to our staff, as well as to the whole community, that this new hospital will soon be a reality."
Plans will be highlighted this week at the Royal Cornwall Show, providing a first opportunity for Cornish communities to see what the new building could look like.