A new hospital dedicated to helping injured soldiers will be built in Birmingham, the Ministry of Defence has announced.
Defence Under Secretary Derek Twigg unveiled the plans during a visit to the site of the proposed ward at a new £545 million hospital under construction in the city.
Birmingham New Hospital in Edgbaston is set to open in 2010 and will be a part of the University Hospital Birmingham (UHB) NHS Foundation Trust. The site is currently home to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The Trust manages the QE and Selly Oak Hospitals, where the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) is based. RCDM is set to relocate to the new hospital in the first phase of its opening.
Speaking from the building site, Mr Twigg described the new ward as a “magnificent addition” to existing defence medicine services.
“We are immensely grateful for all that our defence medical staff do,” he said. “What I’d like to say is how magnificent the NHS has been in making sure our injured service personnel receive first class care and our staff have the training they need when they go to Afghanistan and Iraq to save life and limb.
“We are grateful for the care and attention given by the NHS staff. This partnership with the NHS has been crucial to us. This ward will be a magnificent addition to the services we already have.
‘‘The key thing is that it will be a more defined military ward, because of the way the hospital has been designed. It’s very important for our military patients to be treated together. They like to be kept together because of the military ethos.”
The Birmingham New Hospital will have a capacity of 1,213 beds – the same number as the Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak hospitals combined.
The 30-bed military ward will feature physiotherapy facilities, gym equipment and a communal day room. Chief executive of the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust Julie Moore, said: “We have been very pleased with the partnership with the MoD.
“Our soldiers deserve the best in care and our medical staff have been delivering that. Most of all, it is going to be fantastic for our patients.”
In the military-managed ward at Selly Oak Hospital, military personnel are treated alongside civilian patients.
On the new ward, beds will be arranged in single en-suite rooms or four-bed rooms, making it easier to maintain an exclusively military room.
A UHB spokesman said: “There may be times when there is an exceptional demand for beds and some of the beds on the ward are used for civilians but that will be the exception rather than the rule.’’
Asked about the viability of a military-only hospital, Mr Twigg said: “We don’t have enough military patients to sustain a military hospital.
‘‘At any one time we wouldn’t have enough patients to fill more than two wards, therefore we couldn’t give the military medics the range of training they need in order to go to Iraq and Afghanistan.”