Plans for new Friarage Hospital surgical hub pass important milestone

PLANS to replace the Friarage Hospital’s ageing operating theatres with new and expanded facilities have passed an important milestone.

The Department of Health and Social Care has given the greenlight for £35.5million of NHS investment to be earmarked for the creation of new modern operating theatres at the Northallerton hospital.

The NHS needs to increase capacity to support patients whose non-urgent care has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Friarage development is one of more than 50 new surgical hubs that are being created across the country.

Subject to final approval of the scheme, the plans for the Friarage will see the hospital’s six existing operating theatres replaced with a modern surgical hub that will include six main operating theatres, two minor operating theatres and a surgical admission and day hub.

The creation of the state-of-the-art surgical hub at the Friarage will enable the hospital to almost double the number of planned operations it carries out each year from just over 5,000 to almost 10,000.

The detailed plans for the new theatres have been led by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s experienced clinicians and will now be developed further for the next phase of regional and national NHS approvals before they are given the final go-ahead.

The surgical hub plans are just the latest in a series of clinically-led developments at the Friarage which have seen the creation of new services and the on-going removal of Second World War-era buildings on the site.

In the last two years, a new dialysis unit and ophthalmology unit have opened at the hospital and, in the coming weeks, a new £5million endoscopy and urology diagnostic hub is set to open.

The surgical hub is planned to be built on the site of the existing Mowbray building which is more than 60 yearsold and is due to be demolished when the hospital’s new diagnostic hub opens.

Mike Stewart, the trust’s chief medical officer, said: “We are delighted that the plans for significant investment in the creation of a surgical hub at the Friarage have passed this important milestone.

“Replacing the Friarage’s aging theatre block with a modern and expanded surgical hub will ensure the worldclass care our clinicians deliver is matched by world-class facilities for decades to come.”