A major £4.2million refurbishment for Chard Community Hospital has been approved.
Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust agreed the project – which will make the hospital “fit for the 21st century” – on Tuesday.
The work will answer the trust’s own concerns about patients’ privacy and dignity, as well as the ability of its minor injuries unit to cope with growing patient numbers.
The trust conducted a survey and evaluation of the fabric of the buildings in 2011 and concluded they were not of a sufficiently high enough quality to deliver the requirements of a modern health care facility.
Chief executive Edward Colgan, said: “When we undertook our own evaluation of the hospital it was apparent that the age of the building and its poor internal layout meant that we needed to take steps to improve its facilities.
“Inpatient accommodation is on the first floor with access via an unsuitable lift.
“Patient privacy and dignity can be compromised – the building’s current layout does not allow for joint working between mental health and community services and the hospital’s minor injury unit is simply not big enough for the growing number of patients using the service.
“By opting to invest in this major refurbishment of the hospital in a phased way we will secure facilities fit for the 21st century and be able to develop services which will meet the future health needs of the people of Chard. We will also retain most services on site whilst the building works take place.”
Members of the trust board were asked this week to consider four investment options for the hospital which included carrying out the minimum level of investment in the building at a cost of £498,000, demolishing and rebuilding at an estimated cost in excess of £10.3 million and relocating and building an entirely new hospital at a cost of at least £12million.
They backed a fourth option – to undertake a major refurbishment .
Built in 1929, the original two storey section of the hospital has had a series of single storey pre-fabricated extensions and small annexes added over the years.
In addition to the hospital’s 20 inpatient beds, it has outpatient and musculoskeletal clinics, physiotherapy and occupational therapy services, a minor injury unit and diagnostic x-ray and ultrasound facilities.
The first phase of the work is expected to start next January and the project could take up to three years.