Bedford Hospital could have a brand new £20 million A&E department within the next three to four years, the Times & Citizen can exclusively reveal.
Already a feasibility study has been launched into demolishing the existing premises and building a new facility from scratch.
It would be bigger, better, and allow for major improvements to the town’s urgent care services, said chief executive Stephen Conroy.
The current A&E, built in the 1950s, is outdated and has no capacity to meet the growing demand for the service in the future, he said.
Trust bosses plan to apply to the Department of Health to fund the new facility.
They aim to complete the feasibility study by this autumn and have a full business case for funding completed by January next year.
Said Mr Conroy:“ It is still the very early stages, but we believe that a new building would provide the best opportunity to improve urgent care services. However we would need to evaluate a range of possible options for improving our A&E facility.”
The favoured option would be to provide a more efficient and streamlined service by housing A&E and primary care under one roof.
This means GPs would be available to deal with the less critical cases and patients could be triaged accordingly.
There would also be clinical assessment teams for older people and children sharing the site or very close by, said Mr Conroy.
Over the past year A&E attendances at Bedford rose by 5 per cent to 67,139. Emergency admissions rose by 9 per cent over the same period.
Yet the Trust has still managed to meet its targets with 95.1per cent of patients seen within four hours.
Recently, for the week ending May 10, it achieved a record 99.3 per cent.
This week, in a bid to improve services further, the hospital appointed two new permanent experts.
Dr Tom Larsen will join the team as an emergency consultant and Dr Lakshmi Gangadharan will be an A&E doctor.
This week Mr Conroy has thanked all A&E staff for their tireless efforts
“They have shown tenacity and determination to overcome challenges and provide high quality care for our patients,” he said.
“Meeting the national A&E waiting time target for 2014/15 has been possible thanks to the tireless efforts of our staff. At times during the winter months we experienced some exceptional pressures, but all our staff - in A&E and across the hospital - have shown tenacity and determination to overcome these challenges and provide high quality care for our patients.
“The A&E target reflects not only how effectively our A&E department is working, but also the whole hospital and wider health economy. I would therefore also like to thank our health and social care partners, who have worked extremely hard alongside us to maintain the flow of patients through our hospital.