Three wards at Birmingham’s new super hospital, ordered to be ‘mothballed’ by the Treasury to save money, are to be reopened.
Managers of the new Queen Elizabeth Birmingham Hospital have renegotiated with the Department of Health and Treasury officials to allow two extra 36-bed wards to be used for patients and a third to be a back-up for winter pressures.
It will also help as numbers of wounded troops being admitted to University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust (UHB) are expected to rise as further campaigns get under way in Afghanistan.
It emerged that the Government had told the trust to mothball 108 of the planned 1,213 beds before the hospital was even built in 2007, but Morag Jackson, the new hospital’s project director, revealed they are now back on the table.
Ms Jackson also detailed how the first patients would be treated at the super hospital in Edgbaston from June 16 when the A&E moves from Selly Oak Hospital.
The first phase of the move will take seven days from June 16 and see all of Selly Oak hospital’s inpatient beds and many services, including critical care, operating theatres and burns unit, transferred over to the new hospital.
The current Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s (QE) cardiac surgery and neurology departments will also move but the hospital will not be fully operational until October 2011.
“The number of overall beds will be around the same as there are at Selly Oak and the QE, which the new hospital is replacing, but there is a change of proportions with more day case beds and intensive care beds but a decrease to longer stay beds,” said Ms Jackson.
“The three wards we were asked to mothball are to be opened for additional capacity.
“The trust always felt it needed those wards and had a dialogue with the Treasury and Department of Health on capacity remodelling so they could be used.”
Bed numbers at the trust had been questioned after a Government report revealed 200 NHS patients had to be transferred to other hospitals because wounded soldiers were taking up all suitable beds and raised concerns for the future with increased military action commencing abroad.
Moira Dumma, chief executive of NHS South Birmingham, said: “We do get surges in activity so we have a team set up to make sure people are treated appropriately and sometimes they have to be diverted within the system. UHB often take diverts from elsewhere. We make every effort that patients go somewhere near where they are from.”
There will also be a military-only managed ward for soldiers at the new hospital.
After the initial move in June, a second phase takes place in November when all inpatient beds from the QE and therapies switch to new hospital, followed by the cardiology department in January next year.
All cancer patient services, bone marrow transplants and endoscopy transfer from the QE in April next year.
July 2011 sees Selly Oak’s outpatients department, fractures clinic, dermatology and rheumatology areas moved along with the QE’s pathology labs and outpatients.
The final transfer will be in October next year when Selly Oak’s eye care and diabetes outpatients clinics move, as well as the QE’s neuroscience wards and theatres, and mortuary.
Once the Selly Oak Hospital site is empty and prices for land start to rise again after the recession, the trust said it will sell the plot to housing developers, while the QE site will be retained for research and education projects.
The new hospital will cost taxpayers £1.75 billion under a private finance initiative scheme, being repaid like a mortgage of at least £48 million a year plus inflation until 2046, with developer Balfour Beatty owning 40 per cent of the hospital.