Tilbury Douglas Construction broke ground on the project on 29 October.
The six-month project will grow the hospital’s emergency department by 12,590 sq ft. Located on Lovely Lane, the Gilling Dod-designed extension will have space for assessment areas, triage, ambulatory care, primary care and urgent clinics on its ground floor. The extension will also have an area for patients with high-risk respiratory issues and other serious symptoms.
The expansion’s first floor will hold staff rest areas, offices and equipment. Having those areas in the extension will allow the current A&E space to be used for patients.
The additional space is much needed in Warrington, with the hospital regularly receiving more than 300 patients a day – more than double its capacity.
“Much of the delay in the emergency department occurs when staff run out of space to assess patients,” explained Simon Constable, chief executive of Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation.
“Many patients presenting now are very unwell and take longer to assess and initiate treatment,” Constable continued. “As a result, long waiting times are sadly no longer unusual. The emergency department and specialist teams deliver exceptional care despite the pressures and could do more, and more quickly, with more space. This expansion will be a real boost to our capacity to assess patients and move them on to the next diagnostic or care setting.”
Identity Consult is the project manager for the scheme, which is slated to complete this spring.
Even though the expansion will not be available this winter, chief operating officer Dan Moore said the hospital would still be able to handle Covid outbreaks and flu surges, thanks to the opening of an 18-bed enhanced care respiratory unit.
Ambulance access will not be impacted by construction on the site, but the side entrance to the orthopaedics unit will be closed.
“The £6.3m investment supports an extension of the current ED footprint and which we believe is the best use of our aging estate within the available footprint,” Moore said. “It will replace the temporary portacabin which currently houses our combined assessment unit and enable a partial reconfiguration of Appleton Wing to maximise the limited space available.
“This is consistent with the Trust’s commitment to make the best of its existing estate pending the development of a new hospital for the town and surrounding areas.”