Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has awarded the contract to build a new £30 million hospital in Berwick to Northumberland-based construction company, Merit.

On 1 December Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee granted planning permission, giving the project the green light.

Originally built in 1874, the current infirmary is no longer suitable for the efficient delivery of modern-day healthcare. The new purpose-built hospital will provide all the existing services with the addition of an accredited endoscopy suite and also house GP practice Well Close Medical Group.

Work to enable the demolition of vacant parts of the current hospital begins this month and will enable the construction of the new development to begin in the summer.

Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “For too long, residents have needed a new hospital which is fit to deliver 21st century health care, now and for future generations, and is equipped to embrace the latest technology to provide our patients with the highest quality of care. Our new hospital will also enable closer working with primary care, again improving patient care and experience.

Merit managing director, Tony Wells, added: “Merit recently launched a new division, Merit Health, to provide healthcare providers and patients with next-generation hospital facilities. We have collaborated with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria Healthcare Facilities Management to develop a design that is zero carbon emissions, has built in infection control, and is technically enabled for the future of health care.

“A large part of the construction work will be undertaken offsite in the Merit factory in Cramlington. The use of offsite manufacture means that Merit can control the quality, significantly improve the programme, and minimise disruption to those who live and work in Berwick.”

Northumbria Healthcare’s executive director for nursing and midwifery, Marion Dickson, who is leading the project for the trust, said: “While our staff at Berwick do an amazing job and provide the highest quality of care for our patients, they are constrained by the poor physical condition and functionality of the building which is, in parts, nearly 150 years old. Having a purpose-built hospital will make a massive difference to them and ensure an improved experience for our patients while providing enhanced privacy and dignity.

Date published: February 11, 2021

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