PLANS for a new £75m emergency hospital at Cramlington are to be submitted to planners this month.
The new specialist emergency hospital, to be sited near the junction of the A19 and A189 to the south of the town, is part of a £200m revamp of healthcare in the region.
A further £125m will be spent on upgrading North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals and rebuilding three community hospitals over the next ten years.
At last week’s meeting of Cramlington Town Council, Steven Russell, director of medicine and emergency care at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, told councillors and residents that the plans were almost ready.
Detailed proposals are due to be handed over to Northumberland County Council within weeks, he said.
“This has been going on for the last three years, and we are just putting the final details to the planning proposal, which will be submitted imminently,” said Mr Russell.
“The site will have a helicopter landing site, which caused some concern among residents, who felt it was close to residential areas, so, after a lot of work, the location of the helipad has been changed, and it will be fairly significantly removed from any housing.
“Another issue that has been raised was concern about the road infrastructure, because residents thought it would result in an increase of traffic.
“There will be increased traffic as it is developed, but our highway engineers have worked out a solution.
“Sirens were raised as a particular issue.
“Around 70 per cent of the patients will arrive by ambulance, but only a very small proportion will arrive travelling under emergency conditions.
“The guidance on using sirens is clear in that sirens and lights should be used by ambulances under emergency conditions only.”
Mr Russell said the proposal included a shuttle bus service linking the hospital to Northumberland and North Tyneside in an effort to discourage car usage.
He said the trust was aiming to provide free parking for visitors, but that could change.
Coun Ian Ayres said: “I hope there won’t be any parking charges.
“There has been a great deal of debate about this, so I hope the people on the planning committee note that there is not going to be any parking costs.”
Coun Alan Armstrong said: “We have all accepted that this hospital is going to be in Cramlington.
“I think most people’s fears over ambulances, car parking, and helicopters taking off and landing will disappear.”
A spokesman for the trust added afterwards: “Over the last few years, we have involved the public throughout the process of planning the new specialist emergency care hospital.
“We have listened to residents’ views and have reflected those in our planning application.
“For example, as a direct result of feedback from the public, we have moved the helipad from its original site and adapted the transportation links.
“People living in Northumberland and North Tyneside will benefit greatly from the hospital as it will dramatically improve emergency care, saving lives and enabling patients to make a better recovery.
“Residents will also benefit from investment of £200m over the next ten years.”
n Council aims to double budget – Page 10