A BUMPER £15m has been announced for an initiative that will help cut waiting times for patients across Somerset as plans are submitted for a new ward and fifth theatre at Yeovil Hospital.

This exciting news is in addition to the new day theatre and breast care unit planned for the site, and the building of a new surgical centre at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton that is due to start this Spring, demonstrating fantastic investment in healthcare for communities across Somerset.

With plans already underway, the building work is split into two parts. The first will see Yeovil Hospital’s main theatre receive a significant refurbishment, including increasing space in the recovery area, as well as an extension that will add a fifth theatre to the existing four, increasing the number of operations that can be performed each year in the county.

The second part of the project will be the addition of a new 20-bed ward. This will be made up of single, en-suite rooms and is set to be a dedicated orthopaedic ward with physio space for early rehabilitation to take place, supporting patients to get home as soon as possible after their operation.

Orthopaedic Consultant Mr Matthew Hall has been heavily involved in the project and said: “We know that, at the moment, patients are having to wait longer than we would want for operations.

“We are working hard to reduce those waits using the capacity currently available to us, but this significant investment is extremely welcome.

“Not only with the additional theatre increase the number of operations we can perform, but the dedicated ward with space and equipment for the fantastic physio team to work with patients and get them on their feet again as soon as possible will be of huge benefit.

“All the plans we are putting in place are to benefit the whole of Somerset as we move towards the planned merger between Yeovil Hospital and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, and patients will soon start to see those benefits in the coming months and years.”

The contractor for the theatre expansion has been appointed and enabling works will begin in the next few weeks with the theatre hoped to open Autumn 2024.

The tender process and design of the new ward is underway with the anticipated opening date planned for Spring 2024.

This £15m investment is part of a national Government funding boost announced last week that, overall, will see hundreds of thousands more patients benefitting from NHS treatment by next year thanks to the new surgical spaces.

As part of the biggest and most ambitious catch-up plan in NHS history, an estimated 780,000 additional surgeries and outpatient appointments will be provided across the UK at 37 new surgical hubs, 10 expanded existing hubs and 81 new theatres dedicated to elective care.

It comes on the one-year anniversary of the Elective Recovery Plan – since then, the NHS team collectively has virtually eliminated two-year waits for care while December saw the backlog go down for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.