PATIENTS could be operated on and cared for in a new £79.5 million surgical centre at Musgrove Park Hospital by the end of 2023.

The Department of Health gave the go-ahead today (Wednesday) for the development of state-of-the-art theatres, a critical care unit and endoscopy suite at the Taunton hospital.

It will replace most of the ageing 1940s buildings that currently provide care for some of the most critically ill patients in Somerset.

Somerset County Gazette:

The new centre will include:

  • Six endoscopy rooms, patient recovery and clinical support areas;
  • Eight operating theatres (including two interventional radiology theatres), recovery areas and clinical support;
  • 22 critical care beds, all specified for level 2 and 3 critical care patients.

Dr Stuart Walker, chief medical officer at Musgrove, said: "We are absolutely delighted that our hospital has this support to develop a new surgical centre, which will include new theatres and critical care unit.

"For our patients and the people of Somerset, it means they will have access to modern, state of the art facilities, that are fit for the future.

Somerset County Gazette:

Dr Stuart Walker

"Over very many years, our staff have been performing surgery and providing intensive care in buildings that date back to Musgrove's wartime history as an American military hospital.

"These buildings were never intended to be permanent and it is a tribute to our staff that they continue to offer such high quality, safe care despite their surroundings.

"We are all excited to be embarking on this new phase. We know how important it is to our local population, and staff, that they have the best possible hospital facilities in which to provide excellent care.

"The new theatres and critical care facilities will provide such an upgrade to Musgrove Park Hospital, for the benefit of our community."

The original hospital was built during the Second World War as a temporary casualty evacuation hospital for the D-Day landings, but has become increasingly difficult to maintain.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the funding for the project from a £3.5 billion capital investment fund announced in the Autumn Budget.

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow, who met Ministers, spoke in the House of Commons and started a 6,000-signature petition in support of the new centre, was delighted by the announcement.

She said: "This has been very much a joint effort between myself and Musgrove and I am delighted that the hard work has paid off.

"This new facility will serve not just people from Taunton Deane but from the whole Somerset area and indeed the wider South West region.

"My petition showed huge support from so many across Taunton Deane, demonstrating the strength of feeling locally for this much-needed project and I am so proud that this important project has been allocated this welcome Government funding."

Jeremy Hunt said: "Our ambition is to make NHS care the safest anywhere in the world. We know we have lots of work to do to achieve that but safety in surgery is paramount.

"When I visited Musgrove in November, Rebecca bought to my attention just how critical this funding is.

"But most of all, this is a vote of confidence in the staff at Musgrove, who have been working so hard over winter - it’s been a really tough few months and it’s a really nice way to give them some recognition for the really fantastic work they’re doing."