Hospital services

Fears that wards at Torbay Hospital will be ‘overwhelmed’ in the new year

A rapid start to the massive £400million rebuild of Torbay Hospital is high on Torbay’s New Year’s wish list, according to the Head of Torbay Council.

Cllr Steve Darling says he will step up the campaign in early 2022 for the government to speed up the much-needed overhaul of the hospital site. ‘I am really concerned that in the New Year the Torbay NHS will be overwhelmed,’ he said.

His comments came after growing pressure on hospital services in Torbay in the run-up to Christmas.

One day, there were 26 ambulances lined up outside the main hospital’s A&E unit, with patients waiting to be admitted.

Some waited for hours before they could be taken to the main hospital.

Cllr Darling believes the incident highlights the need to move the long-awaited reconstruction of the hospital to the top of the spending list.

He said: ‘We have seen a sign of the pressures on the hospital with the ambulances waiting outside.

“I believe we could see worse examples than this in the not too distant future.”

Health chiefs say the rebuild will involve a ‘fundamental review’ of healthcare delivery in South Devon.

The project will include a small acute care hospital for urgent cases and a separate unit for planned “elective” care.

Funding for the scheme, titled Building a Brighter Future, was confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak more than a year ago during the fall spending review.

A full business case is to be submitted in September 2023, with final bid cost, before work begins.

Liz Davenport, chief executive of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, described the rebuild as “an incredibly exciting project”.

Torbay MP Kevin Foster said it could not only be a massive boost to healthcare but also a major boost to the local economy.

He said in a message to constituents that ensuring it is delivered is the highest priority for him as an MP for the bay.

Cllr Darling said the hospital’s traditional winter pressures had hit him much earlier than usual and underscored the need to speed up rebuilding.

“It’s always ‘jam tomorrow’ when it comes to investing in Torbay Hospital,” he said. “It is a challenge for us to ask the government to present it. The hospital should have had this investment 10 years ago.

Cllr Darling said he was confident the money would be made available, but the time it was taking was “frustrating”.

“This is our most important public service, and we must challenge the government to continue.

“It is desperately needed. It looks like we are going to have to live with a high pressure health service for many years to come. A system that was already dysfunctional needs this priority investment.

“That should be our number one goal for the start of 2022.”

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