£8 million has been made available to the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust by NHS England to fund the refurbishment of the Aconbury wards in Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
The £8 million had already been ring-fenced but myself, Robin Walker and Harriett Baldwin were concerned that it had not been made available and wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in May to push for the implementation of the funds as a matter of urgency. The Aconbury wards refurbishment will ease pressures on bed space in the Worcestershire Royal at a time when the hospital and the wider Acute Trust is operating under special measures.
The additional funding forms a part of the overall £29.6 million that was promised by the Department of Health to the Worcestershire Acute Trust last year, following significant lobbying by local MPs and the Trust itself. Prior to this money being made available, just over £3 million of the overall figure had been given to the Trust for the purpose of building a bridge to the wards on the far side of the road. This means that over £11 million has so far been made available with approximately £18 million still to be released to the Trust.
I am pleased that this funding has been brought forward for the urgent refurbishment of the Aconbury wards in Worcestershire Royal. We knew that this money was secure but expediting it was a matter of urgency given current pressures on the hospital and work can now get underway that will free up bed space and, I hope, improve hospital experiences for patients, many of whom are my constituents.
Along with my neighbouring MPs, I have lobbied the Department Health for priority funding throughout my time in Parliament and I am glad that our letter in May instigated this vital release of funds. I will continue to make the case for our local Acute Trust, both until the remaining £18 million of promised funding is secured and indeed beyond that.
Chief Executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Michelle McKay commented on the news and said:
“The good news is that work has already started on the long awaited link bridge which will connect the main Worcestershire Royal Hospital building with the neighbouring Aconbury block. This will give us easier access to additional beds in refurbished wards as early as the fourth quarter of 2018/19 subject to the release of the funds we need.
“While that work is under way, we are also focussed on making sure that we can attract, and keep, the best staff with the skills and approach needed to help us meet the challenges we face. As well as improving outcomes for patients, this will help us to reduce our reliance on costly agency or locum staff, and make a significant contribution to our financial recovery plan. Everyone in our Trust, from ward to Board, understands the challenges which we still face on our improvement journey and we share the desire of our inspection and regulatory bodies, as well as people in our local communities, to see progress continue to be made quickly and sustained.”