Kettering General Hospital is planning to spend £4.1m to build new maternity theatres to prevent the total closure of maternity services at the hospital.
Failure to act would result in the eventual closure of the maternity theatres and the relocation of services elsewhere.
The plan is to build new facilities in front of the existing maternity unit in Rockingham Wing to replace the existing delivery unit, which has reached the end of its life.
In a report discussed last month, hospital bosses were warned that the design and condition of the existing facilities is unlikely to meet minimum standards in the very near future.
The seriousness of the problem and need to act quickly was highlighted in the report by the hospital’s director of estates and facilities Chris Hodgson, which was discussed by members of the hospital board three days before Christmas.
The report says: “In June 2013 investigations commenced into the cause of contamination and debris discharging from the ventilation system in the maternity theatre suite.
“The existing theatres’ ventilation systems were found to be life expired and emergency repairs were undertaken in July 2013 and a temporary verification of the ventilation systems accepted by Infection Control and the authorising engineer, pending the implementation of full remedial works.
“Feasibility studies were then undertaken to ascertain the most appropriate remediation strategy and an outline business case approved by the board of directors on April 25, which recommended the provision of two new compliant theatres constructed at the front of Rockingham Wing and remodeling of the existing theatres accommodation to provide recovery and support spaces.”
Mr Hodgson’s report goes on to say: “Failure to act would result in the eventual closure of the maternity theatres and the relocation of services elsewhere.
“The condition of the existing ventilation systems will lead to the temporary verifications being withdrawn by the authorising engineer and Infection Control in the very near future if nothing is done.
“In addition to the condition issue above, the design of the existing theatres and facilities is not compliant with Department of Health guidelines, which causes inefficiencies in service delivery and this will be compounded in future years with the anticipated population growth statistics.”
Kettering General Hospital provides services to around 330,000 people in north Northamptonshire, south Leicestershire and into Rutland.
Population is forecast to grow by 25 per cent over the next 12 years in the parts of Northamptonshire served by the trust with the most significant growth of more than 50 per cent predicted in the borough of Corby.
Mr Hodgson’s report states that “a basic utilisation study of the current facility confirms that, on a like for like basis, current practice for patient/clinical space is likely to be 50 per cent below the recommended levels”.
According to the report, a contractor was due to be given an order for the work this week, with initial work on the project due to start on Monday and construction work due to start mid-February.
If everything goes according to plan, the new theatres should be completed by the middle of August.
The recovery area being created in the existing building should be ready by the end of November.
Building brand new theatres will enable maternity services to continue until the new unit is fully operational by December.
Kettering General Hospital chief executive David Sissling said: “The trust is currently investing some £18m in its facilities and infrastructure – greatly assisted by a capital investment from the Department of Health of £11.6m in August 2014.
“One of these investments is replacing our old maternity theatre suite with two new theatres and associated modern recovery areas and a new ventilation system.
“This will provide a safe and modern theatre environment which will support all of the many obstetric and gynaecology services that we provide in our maternity unit.
“Our maternity service currently supports 3,800 births and 2,000 theatre gynaecological and obstetric theatre procedures each year so these facilities are important to us.
“Other recent investment in maternity includes a £200,000 upgrade to the showers and bathrooms in our maternity unit.
“Work on this refurbishment is set to commence on January 19 and will significantly enhance the environment on our maternity ward.
“Work on the new theatres will commence in mid-February.
“Ensuring that core services remain at the two acute hospitals in Northamptonshire is an important principle within the county’s Healthier Northamptonshire programme.
“These investments demonstrate our clear commitment to high quality maternity care at Kettering General Hospital.”