A new specialist emergency care centre in south east Northumberland has been officially ‘topped out’ by the medical director of NHS England.
Author of the recent Urgent and Emergency Care Review, Sir Bruce Keogh, carried out the ceremony at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington on Tuesday.
The new hospital will be the first in the country dedicated to providing emergency care with A&E consultants working 24/7 to care for seriously ill or injured patients, when it opens next year.
Specialists in a range of conditions will work extended hours seven days a week to care for the 500,000 population of North Tyneside and Northumberland.
Mr Keogh said: “I think major emergency centres like this are the future.
“This centre will have consistent levels of senior staffing and access to the specialist equipment and expertise needed to deliver the best outcomes for patients.”
The Keogh report into care review says that major emergency centres will have lead responsibility for the quality of care and operational performance across the network they support, with an efficient transfer and retrieval system so patients requiring specialist help reach the best possible facility in a timely fashion.
He said separating emergency care from planned tests and operations will have benefits for patients at Wansbeck, North Tyneside and Hexham general hospitals.
The new hospital will have 210 beds with diagnostics embedded within the A&E department so that consultants will get test results quicker, allowing them to start treatment earlier.
Consultant Jacqueline Gregson, who currently works at Wansbeck General Hospital, said the hospital would be a first for Britain.
“This is the first time I have seen inside the hospital, previously I have only seen the pictures, so it’s amazing to see the design,” she said.
“It will be great for the wider community, and it will be fantastic for patients.
“It’s great to be part of a trust that is looking to the future and is the first to be providing A&E consultants 24/7.”
The new hospital is due for completion in 2015 and it is expected doctors will treat 60,000 patients a year.
Planning permission was approved by the council in 2011, with building work beginning in 2012.