Work on Huddersfield’s new £15m A&E department is well underway, as it is set to be open by August next year.
A progress update was presented to Calderdale and Kirklees’s Joint Health Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday. Here, it was revealed by Dr. Mark Davies, a consultant in emergency medicine at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, that the department is set to be operational from August next year.
The doctor and Clinical Lead for Reconfiguration and Transformation at CHFT, explained how the new department was to be 50 per cent bigger than the current A&E and would be “significantly different,” with interiors inspired by the waterways and canals of Huddersfield, making the space “somewhere where you’d like to work and like to be looked after.” The design strategy was said to be dementia friendly, help with wayfinding and take into account aggression reduction, particularly through the use of colour.
The new department will be located in South Drive and will be accessible via Acre Street. This is situated on the other side of the hospital compared to the current A&E, ensuring that the service can continue to operate during the building works. The new department will boast a new dedicated paediatric area and integrated X-Ray imaging room.
Following the commencement of the external wall construction in August, works on the internal structure are now in progress. This stage is set to be completed by December this year. According to the projected time scale, all works will be completed by July next year and open the following month. Many building materials have been sourced from local businesses, with Dr. Davies explaining how “over 70 per cent” of the project’s costs have been put into the local economy. Job opportunities, work placements, and apprenticeships are some of the other ways the development is said to benefit the local community.
Changes to the operation of services within the A&E department were also considered with a new workforce model coming into play with the aim of greater efficiency. Councillor Jackie Ramsey (Dewsbury South) queried whether “efficient” equated to “cheaper” but it was explained by Dr Davies that the goal was not to cut back on costs, but to ensure qualified staff are “working at the top of their license,” undertaking tasks that they are best suited to. The workforce shake up will see a dedicated children’s trained nurse in the pediatric area of A&E and the creation of new roles, including a hybrid health care support worker-porter role meaning one person would be responsible for clothing and feeding patients, as well as transporting them through the hospital.
Over £20M has been invested into HRI to date with £4M spent on the upgrade of Ward 18 in 2020 which saw it converted into single rooms, £0.2M on colleague changing facilities in 2021, and £2M on a learning centre that same year. Retail catering facilities and a backlog of maintenance also received funding, with ongoing asbestos removal, emergency lighting, and ventilation just some of the issues addressed.
Huddersfield’s A&E project is part of the wider £197M proposed reconfiguration programme which will see the transformation of Huddersfield and Calderdale’s hospital services over the space of several years. Each hospital will have different priorities, with it envisaged that Calderdale Royal will receive all blue light emergency ambulances and will provide critical care, emergency surgery, and paediatric surgery, whereas Huddersfield Royal Infirmary will focus on planned surgery and physician-led inpatient care. Both hospitals will provide 24/7 A&E services and urgent care.
The “Outline Business Case” for the full reconfiguration programme has been approved by NHS England and the Department of Health and submitted to Treasury for approval. Once granted, more detailed costings can be drawn up, and the plans progressed to a “Full Business Case.” However, it was said that there is a “period of uncertainty” when it comes to timings so no definitive timeline of decisions was able to be given.