RJAH planning for growth with hi-tech Theatre expansion

Posted: 10 May 2023

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A state-of-the-art extension to the Theatre building at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) is under way – in a move that will help cut waiting lists.

The development at the Oswestry-based hospital will initially see the addition of one new Theatre at the hospital, giving the capacity to carry out an additional 1,200 surgical procedures a year.

Work is already under way on this first phase of the project, and should be complete by the end of January 2024. As well as a new Theatre, the development will also include a recovery area, a staff rest room, toilets, and some cleaning areas.

The hospital has exciting plans to build three further new Theatres over the next three years, as well as refurbishing four existing ones.

The project is part of ambitious growth plans at the hospital, which is one of just three specialist orthopaedic institutions in the UK. It will also help tackle waiting lists, which have risen rapidly during the coronavirus pandemic.

The current phase of the scheme is costing £10.3 million – with £5.3 million of that coming from the Trust’s own capital funds and £5 million from a successful bid to the Department of Health and Social Care’s Targeted Investment Fund – which was money made available to support schemes that promote recovery from the pandemic.

Stacey Keegan, Chief Executive at RJAH, said: “We’re excited to have already secured the funding and begun work on the first phase of this project.

“In the long term this is about growth, but we are very focussed on also getting down our waiting lists and giving all of our patients the experience they expect and deserve. Before covid, our activity levels were around 10,700 procedures a year, and this new, additional Theatre will help us get back to that and beyond.

“We’ve already made sure none of our patients are waiting over two years for treatment and we’re close to eliminating 78-week waits too. NHS targets are for us to get below 65 weeks by March next year, and this extension will help us to achieve that and go further.

“We’re working on a business case for the next phase of the project,” added Stacey. “That will see us adding three more Theatres, and modernising four which are coming towards the end of their useful life.”

The new facilities are being built as an extension to the existing Theatre block at the hospital, which itself cost £15 million and was only opened in 2017. That project delivered four new Theatres, a new unit for same-day surgery, a new High Dependency Unit and a new bone tumour ward.

The development plans are being evolved in conjunction with co-ordinated recruitment and retention activity to ensure the hospital has the staff and the skills it needs to make the most of the new facilities.

Stacey said: “The new building is very exciting, but it alone does not treat our patients, so the most important part of the recipe is our people.

“We have fantastic staff here at RJAH and we’ve put considerable effort this year into recruiting new people in all disciplines. We’ve held two recruitment days – with a third planned for July – and we’ve also recruited nurses internationally as well. We’ve also been successful in recruiting a number of new consultants.

“It’s a great time to come and work at our hospital, and I would encourage anyone interested to take a look at www.rjah.nhs.uk/work-with-us for more information.”