Government earmarks £400 million for new hospital in Bury St Edmunds, says chief executive Dr Stephen Dunn
A new £400 million hospital is to be built in Bury St Edmunds in the next decade.
The Government announced on Sunday that West Suffolk is among 21 NHS trusts to receive a share of £100 million in seed funding to develop plans for new hospitals.
It is part of the £13 billion Health Infrastructure Plan to construct 40 new hospitals by 2030.
Dr Stephen Dunn, chief executive of West Suffolk Hospital, said: “I’m absolutely over the moon and think it’s long overdue.
“We definitely need a new hospital. Our hospital opened in 1974, it had a 30-year lifespan and we’ve gone beyond that by 15 years.
“Our staff deliver some of the best outcomes in the NHS, exemplified by the fact we’re an ‘outstanding’ rated hospital, and staff really needed this boost because the last few years and winters have been incredibly challenging.”
With backlog maintenance of about £53 million and a 1960s design, Dr Dunn said the Hardwick Lane building ‘doesn’t reflect current healthcare standards’ and does not have enough single rooms.
“We’ve been spending money fixing our roof because every time it rains as it has done this week considerably we have to have buckets in and around the site to collect the rainwater as it seeps into the building,” he said.
“It isn’t a fit for purpose building and this news is so so welcome.”
He has been told that the Government has earmarked £400 million for a new hospital.
Dr Dunn believes they will be awarded up to £3 million to appoint advisers, architects and consultants to develop business case plans.
The new hospital is earmarked for 2025 to 2030 and land was previously identified near Westley.
The land to the west of Bury was listed in St Edmundsbury’s framework for growth, Vision 2031, for the ‘long term development of a sub-regional health campus (relocation of the West Suffolk Hospital)’.
In my experience, whilst there have been changes to Governments in the past, those plans that have been developed generally get delivered - Dr Stephen Dunn
“We will need to work through the options available to us which would probably include redeveloping the existing site which would involve a considerable amount of disruption,” Dr Dunn said.
“Alternatively it might be possible to develop a green field site that will improve access and flow around Bury that could possibly link to the train line and the better access from the Westley junction that would help with receiving accident and emergency ambulances.
“That could allow us to develop a health and care campus that could provide a model for not only the county but the country.”
Working with West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Councils, he said there ‘might be opportunities’ to develop a range of health, care and leisure services which, when linked with the hospital’s digital exemplar status, ‘could be hugely exciting for local people but also nationally and internationally’.
On the next steps, Dr Dunn said: “We await further details on the process and the amount of help and support with funding.”
Asked how confident he was that the plans will see fruition given the ongoing political turmoil, Dr Dunn said: “I don’t have a crystal ball. However, this is a major public commitment that’s being made by the Government.
“We’ve managed to secure this with the backing of our local MPs Matt Hancock and Jo Churchill who have been fighting for West Suffolk to be on this list.
“In my experience, whilst there have been changes to Governments in the past, those plans that have been developed generally get delivered.”
He also thanked Roger Quince, former chairman of the trust, who ‘got the ball rolling’ by identifying the Westley site.
Last December, West Suffolk Hospital received £13.4 million from the Government to redevelop and expand its emergency department.
- Read more: West Suffolk Hospital's £13.4 million to redevelop emergency department is a 'much welcomed early Christmas present'
Dr Dunn said they were working through the clinical model with architects and it was needed to cope with the 80,000 attendances per year.
“It will take five to 10 years to develop a new hospital,” he added. “Unless we get different guidance on this, our assumption is we can’t wait that long and we need to make sure we’ve got improved capacity.”
More by this authorPaul Derrick