TOP level Government discussions about handing Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital £79.5 million for a new surgical centre are taking place.

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow has sparked the talks after making the case for the development on the site of wards built 75 years ago.

The hospital has made a business plan for the scheme and hopes to get a slice of a £3.6 billion Department of Health and NHS Transformation kitty.

Ms Pow highlighted the urgent need to upgrade the existing facilities housed in 1940s buildings constructed by the Americans as a temporary hospital for the D-Day landings.

She said the buildings are unfit for the provision of 21st Century healthcare and struggle to accommodate the escalating demand for the services provided there.

Ms Pow told Parliament Musgrove was recently rated 'outstanding' by the Care Quality Commission, despite the challenging conditions for patient care.

During the debate, Health Minister Steve Barclay said: "As the Minister responsible, I recognise the importance of the issue both to her and to the community, and I look forward to continued discussions with her as we seek to progress the situation and ensure the best possible care for Taunton Deane and the surrounding area."

Following the debate, Ms Pow, who has also raised the issue with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, told the County Gazette: "I wanted to be clear that while the dedicated staff at MPH do excellent work and have been rated outstanding for care, they are struggling in antiquated buildings that comprise the critical care and endoscopy units.

"This was a welcome opportunity to bring this starkly to the Minister's attention and to make a strong case for funding to develop a state-of-the-art new surgical and endoscopy centre.

"The world class care offered at MPH should be matched by world class facilities. I am hopeful that this will be looked upon favourably and was encouraged by the response from the Minister.

"Without this new centre the long-term sustainability of emergency care, critical care and diagnostic screening is at critical risk of failure.

"I am launching a local campaign to help demonstrate public support for this bid to the Department of Health which includes a petition which I will present to the House of Commons."

Musgrove's chief medical officer Dr Stuart Walker last week said he welcomed Ms Pow's support for an important development for the hospital and the community.

He added: "A business case has been developed for the plans and we are now waiting for the opportunity to submit a bid for the money that was announced in the Autumn Budget."