Struggling Northampton A&E's new unit nears completion

Image source, Northampton General Hospital
Image caption,
It is hoped the new assessment centre at Northampton General Hospital will reduce A&E waiting times

Hospital beds and equipment have begun to arrive at a struggling emergency department's new assessment centre.

It is hoped the 60-bed unit at Northampton General will help staff to work out the appropriate treatment for each patient and reduce waiting times.

A hospital manager blamed "dangerous overcrowding" in A&E for the death of an 85-year-old man in March.

The Nye Bevan building, named after the health minister who set up the NHS in 1948, is on track to open in October.

The hospital said its accident and emergency department now experiences year-round "sustained" pressure, and saw 335 patients each day last year, up 6% on the year before.

Image source, Northampton General Hospital
Image caption,
The 60-bed unit was named by hospital staff in honour of the former health minister who set up the NHS

A spokesman said: "The new building is designed to help us assess patients quickly in a different facility rather than a busy A&E, without needing to admit them as in-patients.

"This includes new ways of working for staff especially doctors and nurses, rapid access to investigations, close working with our GP colleagues, community nursing and social care colleagues.

"A&E will be freed up to have the space to treat those who are really in need of emergency treatment."

The NHS has a target to treat or admit 95% of A&E patients within four hours. In May, it was 86.6% at Northampton General, compared to the England average of 90.4%.

Many sections of the £12m unit have been built off-site and lowered into place to make the construction process faster and less disruptive.

It contains the first ward at the hospital to be named after a woman, Esther White, who became Northampton General's first matron, in 1743.

The other ward is named in honour of Walter Tull, the former Northampton Town Football Club player who became the British Army's first black officer.

Media caption,
Many sections of the building were made off-site then lowered into place over the past year

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