A large expansion of the John Radcliffe Hospital’s A&E department will not pose a threat to the Horton’s emergency department.
The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUH) said the extension will allow better use of space, more diagnostic equipment and improved dignity and privacy for patients as well as improved turnaround times for ambulances.
And to reassure the Banburyshire public, the OUH reissued trust CEO Dr Bruno Holthof’s March statement committing the trust to an ongoing A&E at the Horton.
“Almost 40,000 patients a year are treated in the emergency department at the Horton and the level of demand increases every year.
“Downgrading the department to an urgent care centre or shutting the department completely were never viable options,” he said.
The trust said building of the JR extension would begin in early December and would provide an extra nine bays for the immediate care of seriously ill patients.
The new space will include a paediatric resuscitation room and an isolation room with an adjacent CT scanner and control room as well as a nurses’ bay and improved bereavement and relatives’ rooms.
As a part of the expansion project, six ambulance spaces will be created with a more efficient drop-off point at the entrance of the new building.
The project, consisting of the building extension and the refurbishment of the current emergency department, will be carried out in separate phases and is hoped to be completed by spring 2020.
Sue Edgar, chair of Banbury Labour’s Health Matters group said: “We welcome any improvement at the JR’s A&E department for patients, carers and staff. Last winter was chaos and this winter will be worse – so we say bring it on.
“The pain, misery and fear endured by patients and the stress and frustration of staff all urgently need alleviating, so more space and facilities, and more ambulance bays are clearly a great idea.
“However there are two huge provisos. What does this do to overall budgets (will there be a compensatory loss of service at the Horton) and will there be extra staff taken on to run this enlarged service?
“If the work goes ahead but no extra staff or parking spaces are provided, the service will be simply be overwhelmed again and money will have been wasted. We look forward to hearing the details of how this plan will justify its costs and more specifically how it will benefit patients across the whole county,” said Mrs Edgar.
“We will also be keeping an eye on how this dovetails with plans for an ‘integrated front door’ at the Horton. We will not accept anything that looks even remotely like a downgrade,” she said.
Planning permission for the extension was granted last week after a pause while the OUH resubmitted a new transport statement following concerns about congestion by Oxfordshire County Council and Stagecoach bus company.
Charmaine Hope, head of capital and architectural practice at OUH said: “We are extremely pleased that Oxford City Council has granted planning permission for this extension. It is a significant building project with many complex elements but on its completion, it should benefit the whole community.”
Larry Fitton, A&E consultant, said: “The expansion of our emergency department is vital to ensure high-quality care is delivered to our patients in the right time and in the right environment.”