WARRINGTON’s two new MPs and the borough council have been working together on prioritising a new hospital for the town – with all agreeing a town centre site as the most desirable location.
Andy Carter MP (Warrington South) and Charlotte Nichols MP (Warrington North) have held talks with Warrington Borough Council Leader, Cllr Russ Bowden and Cabinet Member for Statutory Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr Rebecca Knowles, on the need for a new hospital.
All agreed that the current facilities for an expanding town, with an increasingly senior population, are not fit-for-purpose, despite the dedicated efforts of staff and other health and social care professionals.
They discussed the requirements for a new, future-proofed and technologically-driven hospital that reflects the wider health needs of both Warrington and Halton populations. This would be made possible via a ‘single estates’ strategy, enabling the provision of a comprehensive and seamless range of acute and community clinical services.
These would run alongside support services to maximise wellbeing and prevention, clear links to wider social care support and an opportunity for the establishment of a university-led medical school.
While the size and scope of the new hospital will be clinically driven, it was agreed that a town centre site would be desirable to support easy patient access.
Both MPs and the Council agreed to work together co-operatively in order for the new hospital to become a national priority for investment. Andy Carter MP agreed to seek development funding for the business case and to speak with ministers regarding the importance of this as a key priority for the town and the North of England.
He said: “We’re at the early stages of moving this project forward but being able to bring the council, hospitals and MPs together to agree an outline approach is a very important first step.
“Having the Health Secretary visit Warrington during the election campaign allowed me to show him the pressures staff face at the hospital, particularly in A&E, and the need for more space. He also saw the challenges of parking and the age and condition of the estate.
“We now need to work together to create a solid case to put to ministers to secure the funding. I’m keen we progress this stage quickly.”
Charlotte Nichols MP said: “I’m really pleased that, within the first few weeks of this Parliament, we have been able to secure a cross-party, all-Warrington meeting about this important issue. We’ve reached agreement on a number of key issues regarding the new, modern hospital that Warrington needs to deliver the quality of care patients deserve, and to attract and retain the very best NHS staff.
“A new hospital for Warrington will create jobs in local construction and engineering, provide more high quality opportunities for young people starting their careers in health and social care and give our town centre a boost. I’m also pleased that there are credible proposals in place to utilise brownfield sites, so that there would be no impact on our vital green spaces.”
Warrington Borough Council Leader, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “Work has been underway for over a year to look at potential options. This meeting was an excellent step towards the realisation of a much-needed new hospital for our town. Both of our MPs relish the challenge and the opportunity and we are looking forward to working with them and delivering the facilities that Warrington deserves.”
Chief Executive of Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals Prof Simon Constable added: “From the very outset, our health and local authority partners have been extremely supportive of the concept of a new hospital and we all share the ambition of creating a state of the art ‘health asset’ for our fast-growing and developing town. This is similarly supported by our patients, their families, our staff, members of the public and our new MPs.
“Parts of the current Warrington site are over 100 years old and the Kendrick Wing fire two years ago highlights the risks associated with aged buildings that can occur. Backlog maintenance costs now stand in excess of £10 million.
“We experience regular capacity issues as the town has simply outgrown the current estate – our Emergency Department lacks space to manage the increasing demand for our service and most service developments are stymied because the accommodation does not offer the flexibility required.
“We are really encouraged by the whole-system support for a new hospital – which will be and will deliver so much more than a ‘bricks and mortar’ project – a new, state of the art health facility – which the town and people of Warrington and beyond deserve.”
Parts of the current Warrington site are over 100 year old with a backlog of maintenance costs standing in excess of £10 million.
While located in a good central site access to the hospital is problematic for patients. Car parking is a daily challenge with only 1,400 spaces on site while cars at any one time can be 1,800/1,900 in number. This results in many cars parking in undesignated areas causing operational issues around the site.