FINANCE: Plans for a new emergency centre at The Royal Wolverhampton Trust were given the go ahead by the NHS Trust Development Authority last week.

The £29.9m  project aims to help the trust deal with “unprecedented demand” on its accident and emergency services, partly driven by restrictions on A&E services at Mid-Staffordshire Hospitals Foundation Trust.

The sign off by the TDA board’s last Thursday will allow work to begin at its New Cross Hospital site this June with the first admissions expected in February 2016.

According to Royal Wolverhampton’s business case, the project is needed because its existing emergency department cannot “continue to cope with increasing demand” and is “no longer fit for purpose”.

It lacks sufficient space for an essential service reorganisation and the small size of its cubicles and diagnostic areas compromise patient safety and create a “poor patient and staff environment”.

While the development has been a longstanding goal of the trust, the capacity problems have been exacerbated by service reductions at Mid Staffordshire.

TDA board papers point out that the Royal Wolverhampton’s emergency department attendances increased by 8.5 per cent since 2007-08, with significant hikes in the past two years, since Mid Staffordshire stopped running a round the clock A&E service.

Royal Wolverhampton will pay two-thirds of the project’s costs with the remaining £10m funded by the Department of Health.

The DH allocation, which has been applied for through its independent trust financing facility, would recognise the “significant activity transferred from [Mid Staffs]”, according to the TDA papers.