A multi-million pound plan to transform and extend the main entrance of Colchester Hospital has been given the green light.
The front of the main building, which has largely stayed the same since the hospital opened in 1985, will change significantly, with the project paving the way for an expansion of the hospital, including the Emergency Department (ED).
It will bring major improvements for staff, patients and visitors alike, with a more modern and spacious entrance to the hospital and overhaul of the areas next to it.
Nick Hulme, Chief Executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) which runs the hospital, said: “We want to transform the patient and visitor experience of our services in many ways, and this scheme is part of delivering that vision.
“The entrance and reception areas are frequently our patients’ first impression of the hospital, and it shapes their whole experience of coming to hospital at what for many is a stressful and anxious time. By increasing the space and improving the facilities in this area we aim to create a calming, safe and reassuring comfortable environment.
“The new main entrance development is an important element of our overall long term vision, which provides us the opportunity to renew a sense of pride in the hospital as we work to ensure we offer our patients the high standards of care and high quality facilities we would choose for our own families.”
The development, which is to be funded by working with a commercial partner, will see the extension take the form of two blocks. The first is single-storey and provides additional space for ED, which will include an Urgent Treatment Centre, forward facing entrance, waiting room and four consultation rooms.
The second is a larger, two-storey block which forms the new façade at the front of the building. This will provide non-clinical hospital space on the first floor, new visitor facilities and convenience/retail outlets on the ground floor.
Nick Chatten, acting director of Estates and Facilities at ESNEFT, said the hospital’s existing spaces are in need of an overhaul.
“The patient drop-off area is narrow and congested with pedestrians having to share space with vehicles, including day ambulances, buses and taxis,” he said.
“The existing reception foyer is particularly cramped, with there being no suitable seating/waiting area, especially for the elderly, infirm and those waiting to be picked up.
“Elsewhere in the hospital, the staff and visitor restaurant, whilst having a sufficient product range and seating space, is located remotely on the first floor and is too far from the main outpatient areas to be easily accessible to those waiting for appointments.
“The overall scheme will herald the transformation projects planned for the future of ESNEFT.”
The work, which is due to start in March, will also include:
- Removing the access road from the front of the hospital and replacing this with pedestrian access
- Replacing the narrow bridge across the lake with a wider structure
- Improving the quality of the existing ponds and improve landscape quality
- Creating a new drop-off and pick up loop next to ED
- Creating a bus turning loop that will direct buses to the southern entrance on Turner Road, separating visitor vehicles from buses
- Providing better toilet facilities (male, female and disabled, and a Changing Places toilet)
- Providing staff and visitors with a café and convenience stores
- Connecting the front reception and visitor facilities to the out of hours/emergency entrance
It is hoped the Urgent Care Centre will be up and running in October and the retail units will be open in December this year
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