Kettering General Hospital £30m wing ready for patients
A £30m wing is set to open at a Northamptonshire hospital where a review of services became an issue at last year's Corby by-election.
Winning Labour candidate Andy Sawford, claimed services at Kettering General could be downgraded.
The hospital's new 76-bed Foundation Wing will welcome its first patients this weekend.
Hospital management said the review of services was ongoing, but the new unit would improve healthcare provision.
The three-storey building features a paediatric outpatients' department with six consulting rooms, an integrated paediatric unit with 32 beds, an acute 28-bed cardiac ward and an intensive care unit with 16 beds.
During last year's by-election, Mr Sawford said Kettering could be downgraded as a result of a review into the organisation of five hospital and clinical commissioning groups in Northamptonshire, Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire.'Pressure on funding'
Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates dismissed the claims as scaremongering and the NHS said there were no plans to downgrade Kettering, which also has an accident and emergency department.
Mr Sawford, speaking about the opening of the new wing, said: "There is still a big pressure on funding of hospitals across the region and I am still worried about the future of services at Kettering.
"I hope that by investing in new services here we can safeguard the future of this hospital."
The hospital said it had been in talks with Northampton General this year about sharing more services or a possible merger.
The NHS's new Nene and Corby clinical commissioning groups have yet to decide whether any re-organisation of services was needed in Northamptonshire as a result of last year's review.
Lorene Read, chief executive of Kettering General, said: "The Foundation Wing is a fantastic new development that will help us to significantly improve the care we offer for children, patients with heart problems and patients needing intensive care.
"If you look at the number of patients coming to this hospital and the hospitals around us, services are necessary here.
"Our population growth is quite significant, so we're always going to need a hospital at Kettering."