Revealed - The £130m cost of the ‘crucial’ expansion at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital
- Credit: Evening News � 2009
At least £130m is needed to pay for a 'crucial' expansion of services at the region's biggest hospital.
The ambitious project to increase capacity at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) is set to cost more than half the price of the entire hospital itself.
It comes at a time when the N&N is running at a loss - with an expected £24m deficit this financial year.
In a memo to staff, N&N chief executive Mark Davies said expanding part of the hospital building to accommodate more radiology and cardiology services - and building a brand new ambulatory (day-case) and diagnostic centre - would cost between £130m and £150m.
But Mr Davies, who has previously described the plans as crucial, said the case for the expansion 'makes itself' because the hospital needs to provide its many waiting patients with the 'speed of service and treatment that they deserve'.
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Mr Davies also raised the prospect of finding a permanent home for a large piece of cancer equipment which is currently housed in a mobile unit.
Around a year ago Mr Davies told this newspaper that the N&N was too small to cope with demand.
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His plans to expand the hospital were put on hold last summer by regulators, who placed the trust 'financial special measures' - but this was lifted on Monday.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have both acknowledged that the hospital needs more capacity.
In his message Mr Davies said this was a 'big step'.
'We need more capacity on this site and as soon as possible, and the message from me is that we are planning this capacity as fast as we can,' he wrote.
Mr Davies said the radiology and cardiology services would involve 'state-of-the-art minimally invasive procedures that are not available at other hospitals in the region and can offer improved outcomes for patients'.
Mr Davies added: 'Currently our capacity is out of balance with the ever increasing demand on hospital services - that is why we are determined to correct this imbalance as we want our patients to be treated quickly as well as receive the best modern quality care available in the UK today.
'We will do this by continuing to expand the hospital and provide world class facilities for the people of Norfolk.
'This is great news for staff too. We are engaging them in the design of these new facilities and we hope that these new services will attract new staff to this beautiful part of the country.'
The trust did not respond to questions over how the expansion would be funded and how it would affect its Private Finance Initiative contract.
Why does the hospital need to expand its facilities?
Last year N&N boss Mark Davies told this newspaper the hospital is too small to cope with demand.
In effect that means patients have to wait longer for treatment, whether it's at the emergency department (A&E) or day-case procedures such as hip and knee replacements.
How will an expansion help?
By building a new day-case centre the N&N will have more space in its existing premises to create a larger emergency department and integrate its children's emergency department. The latter was highlighted as an important development by the Care Quality Commission. It will also enable more patients to be treated faster across the hospital.
Are the plans affordable?
Time will tell, but the trust will need to produce a persuasive business case to get the go-ahead.
The Norfolk and Norwich University's current site at Colney was opened in 2001.
Experts estimate the cost of the hospital was around £229m, but because it was financed through the Private Finance Initiative the hospital will end up costing the tax-payer more than £1bn.
Despite being relatively new, the hospital has been described as too small to cope with current and future demand.
The N&N is seeing a fast-increasing number of patients and its emergency department gets around twice as many ambulances as the second busiest emergency department across the east of England.
Last year hospital chief Mark Davies announced plans to expand the capacity at the N&N, but those plans were halted when the N&N trust was placed in 'financial special measures' by NHS Improvement.
However those measures were lifted on Monday, rekindling the expansion plans.