The University Hospital of North Durham (UHND), in Durham City, is to receive a new, cutting-edge A&E department. Durham County Council has given the go ahead for the project, which should be completed by 2019. It is hoped the new department will result in better care and shorter waiting times.
The current A&E department is struggling to cope, as it has to deal with twice as many patients as it was designed for. Over 65,000 patients are treated at the department annually despite the fact it was only designed to deal with 30,000. A BBC report from 2014 highlighted issues with excessive waiting times at UHND.
The new building will provide greater space and make it easier to transfer patients from A&E to different departments within the hospital. The A&E department will also be provided with a separate entrance to the paediatrics department.
Durham County Councillors have voted unanimously to approve the plans for the new unit, despite some concerns being expressed about the impact on traffic and the need to demolish Dryburn House.
Dryburn House, a grade II listed building, was built in 1824. Originally a country house, it was used as a military hospital during the 1940s. The University Hospital of North Durham was later built next door. It replaced the old Dryburn Hospital in 2001 though some of the Dryburn Hospital buildings have continued to be used.
— DurhamCountyCouncil (@DurhamCouncil) January 3, 2017
Councillor Paul Taylor said, “Yes, we’re going to lose a very attractive building, but I’d rather save lives than save buildings.”
Professor Chris Grey, the executive medical director for the Darlington and Durham NHS Trust, said, “This is really, really good news. It means we can provide faster better care in an environment which is fit for purpose. It is a win-win situation.”
A spokesperson for the Darlington and Durham NHS Trust added, “The Trust has been working on proposals to invest in the emergency department in the UHND, which are being driven by the pressures on the current department.”
“We are committed to improving the quality of care we provide and the planning application is the next stage of preparation for the scheme.”