LEICESTER’S hospitals are set for a once-in-a-generation transformation to modernise services and improve care, writes Hannah Richardson.
The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL) revealed plans for the city’s three hospital sites, with huge changes set to be delivered by the end of the decade.
Simon Barton, UHL’s deputy chief executive and senior responsible officer, said: “We have increasing numbers of patients to care for, and many of those patients are getting older or sicker.
“UHL’s new strategy – leading in healthcare, trusted in communities – is how we are going to delivery high-quality care for all, make UHL a great place to work and to undertake world-class research.
“Our three main hospitals are within a six-mile radius of each other and, as per the public consultation, we want to make sure that some services are centralised such as maternity and children’s services.”
Leicester’s hospitals have struggled in recent years with increased demand on services. The trust fears, in its current state, it cannot keep up as that demand continues to grow. Maternity demand alone has risen to 10,500 births a year – but the hospitals were only designed for around 8,500 of those, UHL said.
The hospitals also anticipate that they will need 139 more bed spaces for acute – or emergency – care by the end of the 2023-24 financial year. Some buildings are old, tired and beyond their useful life, the trust added.
Each of Leicester’s hospitals will play their own individual role in caring for local residents once the transformation is complete.
Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) will provide most of the emergency care; Glenfield Hospital will be the home of specialist services such as cardiac and renal care; and Leicester General Hospital will become a hub for planned care.
The bulk of the longer-term transformation projects will be delivered through the government’s New Hospitals Programme, with a target deadline of 2030.
UHL is one of more than 40 hospital trusts set to receive funding to modernise hospitals and create buildings and services that are fit for the future.
Millions of pounds have already been poured into the hospitals since 2017 as the trust started working on this shift.
In 2018, a new emergency care floor was set up at the LRI, the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre moved from Glenfield to the LRI in 2019, and just this year, phase one of the East Midlands Planned Care Centre opened at the General.
UHL has said it is currently working on a business case for further projects at the hospitals while it waits for final confirmation of how much money it will receive through the New Hospital Programme.
Recent estimates reported to a Leicester City Council health meeting put the expected amount at around £640m.
Barton said, “We are all so proud and fortunate to be getting such substantial investment in our hospitals to add to the £180 million spent in the past five years, to plan and improve the healthcare for the next generation and beyond.”
The trust has a number of ideas for how it might spend the money. These include a new women’s and family health hospital at the LRI with a new state-of-the-art building built on the site to house it. A dedicated children’s hospital is also proposed.
Critical care services – medical care for people who have life-threatening injuries and illnesses – are expected to be expanded at both the LRI and Glenfield Hospital.
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)