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Marion Dickson, Executive Director, Nursing, Midwifery & Allied Professionals
Damon Kent, Managing Director, Northumbria Healthcare Facilities Management
Liam Robertson, Project Manager, Turner Townsend
Cara Charlton, Head of PR, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

The Civic Society welcomed the opportunity to have a presentation by a panel made up of senior management, led by Marion Dickson giving an update on the construction of Berwick’s new hospital.

It was acknowledged that there are frustrations about the delay caused by the required archaeological investigations, that legally have to be carried out. It is also accepted that we have benefited from the wealth of knowledge and information about what has gone before.

The delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was discussed and it was highlighted that it did lead to a better understanding of important issues, such as infection control. This contributed to a revision of initial plans, to ensure infection prevention control is the best it can be, for example.

The new £35 million hospital is to be built on the site of the existing hospital. Much of the old infirmary has been demolished and the rest will be demolished once the new hospital is built – with the exception of the clock tower. The ground will then be landscaped with good access. The construction alone is estimated to create full-time employment and significantly boost the local economy – during the build and into the future.

A large proportion of the hospital services’ infrastructure will be built off site at Merit’s factory in Cramlington as pre-assembled modules – a modern method of construction that enables these to be developed alongside work on the hospital site. It is envisaged that the new hospital will start to operate by the end of 2024.

The new hospital will not only provide top quality healthcare well into the future but discussions are already in progress to increase the number of appropriate services provided at the hospital and the number of regular clinics.

Services that were noted as being of particular concern to residents were cardiac and routine blood tests. Meanwhile the impact of distance and costs on elderly and vulnerable patients in gaining access to these services in the south were raised. Marion reassured the audience that discussions about this issue were already in progress and solutions mentioned included help with transport. The trust is going to confirm these details.

Further detailed information is included in the trust’s latest media release on its website – https://www.northumbria.nhs.uk/our-locations/berwick-infirmary/new-hospital-berwick#c713da38.

Since the 12th century Berwick has had hospitals within the City walls providing care for sick, vulnerable and needy people, including travellers. It is good to know that this will continue and that the new hospital will provide care from a hospital fit for the 21st century and beyond.

SYG/CL 3/23