Work has begun on a £9.5m project which will see a state-of-the-art sterile services unit and additional office space created at West Suffolk Hospital.
Diggers have moved onto the Hardwick Lane site to demolish portable buildings at the rear of the hospital to make way for the new, three-floor department.
Once work is complete next year, the unit will provide a full decontamination and sterilisation service to clean equipment used in the hospital’s operating theatres, as well as within GP surgeries and by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.
The sterile services department is currently based in Hospital Road, around 1.5 miles from the Hardwick Lane site, which means drivers have to make 29 trips each week between the site – the equivalent of 90 miles – to transport equipment. Machinery at the existing site is also dated, with parts now becoming obsolete.
The new unit will include state-of-the-art equipment, such as specialist washers and autoclaves, while relocating it to the hospital site will also improve efficiency and make it easier to fast-track items which need cleaning urgently.
Once construction is complete, office staff currently working within the main hospital will relocate to the upper floors of the new building. The trust then hopes to use the space this frees up within the main hospital to create a 35-bed decant ward were patients could be cared for while deep cleaning or maintenance work takes place.
Craig Black, executive director of resources at the hospital, said: “The sterile services department plays a vital role in the running of the hospital, allowing the theatres to operate smoothly and efficiently. This exciting project will bring the latest state-of-the-art equipment to West Suffolk, in turn further improving the service our patients receive.
“This project represents a major investment for the trust. As well as improving efficiency by bringing sterile services onto the main hospital site, it will also make it easier to fast-track items which need cleaning more quickly while also allowing work to be drip-fed into sterile services, rather than all arriving in bulk.
“We also hope that relocating office staff to the new building will eventually allow us to create a new decant ward in the main hospital, which will be incredibly useful when carrying out deep cleans or maintenance work.
“We look forward to watching the construction work progress over the coming months and the building opening next year.”
Work on the sterile services building is due for completion in spring 2017.