Residents in Henley got the opportunity to have their say on the redevelopment of Royal Berkshire Hospital on Friday at Henley Rugby Club.
The project named Building Berkshire Together (BBT) is part of the government’s New Hospital Programme to build 40 new hospitals by 2030. The project is now at the outline business case stage and needs to shortlist the options and come to a preferred way forward for the redevelopment or relocation of Royal Berkshire Hospital.
The Trust is yet to hear what the financial investment will be from the Treasury but an announcement is expected next month. The New Hospital Programme team are developing a national approach which is expected to reduce costs for all the new hospitals with standardised and centralised approaches to deliver economies of scale.
Alison Foster, Programme Director of BBT, before starting the talk on the project she gave an update about parking at the current hospital. She confirmed that the Trust has now secured 3,000 free spaces for staff at other sites to free up parking on the site for patients along with free park and ride and a free bus service from the train station. Patients should have seen an improvement in the last few weeks. One member of the audience spoke about the difficulty in using and seeing the small letters on the new car park payment machines.
A presentation followed outlining the current status of the hospital which included spending £2m on the Grade II listed North Block just to keep it safe and looking at possible ways forward which included two sites, one for emergency and one for planned surgeries or a completely new hospital on a new site. Other services being considered in the redevelopment are an educational centre, facility for private patients, lifestyle support, mental health and social care services. As well as the current building not being fit for purpose for 21st century healthcare, the hospital is also working beyond its capacity. For example the emergency department is designed for 250-300 patients a day but is regularly seeing 400+ patients a day. Alison said, “Anything we do has to be part of the integrated care services for Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and we need consider other hospitals in the Trust too which includes Townlands in Henley. We know people are looking for care closer to home.”
The audience then broke into smaller groups to discuss the options and to feedback on local issues affecting them and their families.
Afterwards, Alison said, “It’s a good turnout of around 50+ people today. Everyone seems really engaged and wants to contribute. It’s good that people are interested and want to spend some time out of their day to come along to something like this. If I was to make an observation, I’d like to see a more diverse age group than we have got today. I need to find a way of reaching the younger demographic in Henley. In other areas, we’ve talked to a Mum who is connected to a Mums group who have been up for having a talk. What would be good for one group might not be good for another group of people. We just want to hear from everyone.”
Residents can still have their say by completing the survey at www.buildingberkshiretogether.co.uk/survey by 4 March and can keep up to date with the project at Home – Building Berkshire Together New Hospital Programme