An insight into the new hospital

Rotarian George Brown, Mr David Evans and Rotary President Rhona Dunn. Picture by Simon Foley.
Rotarian George Brown, Mr David Evans and Rotary President Rhona Dunn. Picture by Simon Foley.

Morpeth Rotary Club

Mr David Evans, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and Medical Director at Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust, talked to Morpeth Rotary about health service changes and the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital at Cramlington.

It was opened in June for seriously ill or injured patients and is part of a £200million investment by Northumbria Healthcare.

The trust looks after a widely dispersed population of more than 550,000 across North Tyneside and Northumberland. It has urban areas in North Tyneside, Blyth and Ashington, as well as some of the most remote areas in the county, in the Coquet Valley, the Cheviots and Allendale. A limited movement of people from the area means an older age profile with the associated age-related challenges of Alzheimers, heart disease and cancer.

A policy of the trust is for care to happen as near to home as possible and to minimise the number of admissions, which reflects the wishes of local people.

Prior to building the hospital, acute services (dealing with short term and unexpected illnesses that need immediate treatment) were spread over three hospitals, North Tyneside District General at North Shields, Wansbeck General at Ashington and Hexham General, but this became less satisfactory.

Better outcomes could be achieved where specialist help could be provided earlier in the process, the European Working Time Directive limited what could be done at separate hospitals, and national guidelines required an acute facility to serve a population of around 500,000. Experts were too thinly spread and had to move between sites, with a duplication of services.

A range of options went out for consultation in 2009. The one chosen was a purpose-built hospital in the middle of the area to carry out emergency care and major and complex surgery. It was also decided that it would have consultant-delivered obstetrics. A contractor was appointed in 2012.

Following treatment at the new hospital, it was expected that many patients would go home, but a large number would move on to the big three hospitals or a community one for continued care.

Millions of pounds have been spent on re-development of North Tyneside, Wansbeck, Berwick and Haltwhistle hospitals. The other three sites will concentrate on elective, pre-planned work.

The new hospital has an imaginative and revolutionary layout, reflecting practical needs. The MRI and CT scanners are beside emergency care. The wards are planned to give the best sight lines for nurses.

It has facilities for in-patients, A&E, operating theatres, critical care, maternity, radiology, parking, a helipad, landscaping and roads connecting to the A189. Heating is through biomass, it uses low energy lighting and water saving technology.

Consultants and specialist are available 24/7, an aim for the last ten years.

Mr Evans was given a vote of thanks by George Brown.