Construction will start next month on a new urgent treatment centre being located at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital which it is hoped will relieve pressure on its accident and emergency department.
A total of £9m worth of NHS investment was recently secured for the new facility, which is slated to be up and running in March next year, with preparatory site works now underway.
It will contain clinical and treatment rooms, waiting areas, a triage and reception area, along with staff facilities, with the aim being to ensure patients are seen “in the right place according to their clinical need” so the “already overstretched” A&E can focus on the most poorly.
A GP out of hours service, which has been based at North Ormesby, will also be housed from the building when built.
The plans drawn up by the North-East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), which also include an extension to the opening hours at the existing urgent treatment centre at Redcar Primary Care Hospital in West Dyke Road, Redcar, went out to public consultation last year.
The consultation was later extended after some dates had to be postponed due to the death of the late Queen and a period of mourning that followed.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service previously revealed that 10,981 people attended at the James Cook A&E in December last year – a monthly record – in part due to a surge in flu and respiratory infections with 159 individual waits taking place of more than 12 hours after the decision to admit for treatment.
Pressure on the department has eased since with 41 waits of more than 12 hours being recorded in June.
But public health messages continue to be relayed in a bid to dissuade members of the public from turning up at A&E unless their case is a genuine emergency, while demand will inevitably ramp up as winter draws closer.
Craig Blair, a director of place at the ICB, said: “It is fantastic news that Middlesbrough will soon have its own integrated urgent treatment centre and, along with extended opening hours at Redcar, it brings the South Tees area in line with urgent care services across Teesside so we are offering patients a consistent level of service.”
Mr Blair said Middlesbrough patients would see a number of services delivered from the site 365 days a year with a 24/7 GP presence.
Andy Hebron, clinical director for the emergency department at James Cook, said: “Having an urgent treatment centre on site at James Cook will help ensure more patients are treated in the right place for their needs, while helping ensure our emergency department is kept free for emergencies.
“Patients should continue to contact their GP or call 111 with non-urgent health issues, but if they have a minor illness or injury that needs attention both Redcar and Middlesbrough urgent treatment centres will be available to help, which can only be good news for everyone.”