Plans to ‘massively improve’ emergency and urgent care services at Stepping Hill Hospital have taken another big step forward.
An outline business case for a new £30m campus was recently signed off by both NHS England and the Department for Health and Social Care.
A full business case has also been approved by the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust board, and will be submitted to NHS England for final approval.
The new facility is intended to transform the hospital’s A&E unit into a more modern and efficient building ‘where patients, families and carers can expect to receive high quality care’.
Karen James OBE, chief executive at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust has welcomed the latest step forward.
She said: “We are delighted initial approval has been given for a new ‘Emergency and Urgent Care Campus’, which is fantastic news for local people. This will mean a massively improved site for emergency and urgent care services, where clinical excellence can flourish.
“We have seen a continued increase in emergency patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in recent years, and these new facilities will help us to provide the safe, good quality care which these patients need.”
Trust chiefs say the campus has been designed to centre on patients’ needs and boasts the ‘best possible state-of-the-art facilities’.
It will include new assessment, treatment and consultation areas for key emergency and urgent care services, including the children’s emergency department, mental health, and medical same day emergency care.
The project would also increase the size of the clinical area by more than 300 sq m, enabling more patients to receive safe care and treatment sooner.
There would also be ‘major changes’ to the face of the hospital. Bosses hope this will make the environment more welcoming and visually attractive, improving the experience for patients receiving emergency and urgent care.
An application for planning permission was lodged with Stockport Council last month and – provided this is granted and the government gives final approval – building work will start later in the year.
Work on the campus is scheduled to be completed around March 2024. The hospital says disruption will be kept to a minimum and plans are in place to ensure all key services continue to be available.
It comes after the CQC upgraded its rating for emergency and urgent care at Stepping Hill to ‘good’ earlier this year, having marked it as ‘inadequate’ in 2020. The health watchdog praised staff for the good care and treatment they provide to patients, noting they treated them with compassion, kindness and respect.
However, not everyone is happy with the news.
‘We need better parking’
Issues with hospital staff and visitors parking in the surrounding area have reached boiling point over recent years, with residents complaining of inconsiderate and obstructive parking.
Stepping Hill Neighbourhood Parking Action Group (SNAG) is demanding the hospital ensures the situation is not further worsened by the new campus.
A statement from the group reads:”Stepping Hill Hospital (SHH) must provide adequate and affordable onsite parking as part of this extra development – residents deserve better treatment from the hospital – local neighbourhood roads should not be a carpark for the Hospital to exploit.
“Deplorable but not surprising for SHH to submit the plans during ‘purdah’ [the pre-election period where councils are under certain restrictions] and the lack of communication to residents promised by SHH.”
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust says it remains committed to easing parking pressures for residents and the hospital itself.
A spokesperson said: “Our planned new emergency and urgent care campus is responding to the important care and treatment needs of our patients. The new development will not result in additional patients, but is responding to the numbers we are already seeing, and there will be no reduction in parking spaces with this scheme.
“Although car parking at the hospital has reduced during the pandemic, limited car parking spaces are an ongoing challenge for hospital trusts across the country. We are continuing to look at a range of options to keep car parking on and around the site to a minimum, both as part of our commitment to the environment, and to ease parking pressures both for our neighbours and ourselves.
“These plans were submitted to NHS England prior to the ‘purdah’ period, and the announcement was made after this period.’
Hospital bosses say the campus will be a ‘major step towards modernising Stepping Hill Hospital’s current estate’.
However, in the long term, the trust continues to pursue plans for a new hospital in Stockport in the town centre. An area including the Heaton Lane multi-storey car park and former Debenhams store is under consideration.