STRATFORD HOSITAL is now fully operational.
The £22million hospital, on the site of the old Arden Street hospital, has welcomed its first patients.
In the coming years many more will follow them to use the hospital’s services, to accompany friends and family or as staff or volunteers.
The hospital, which is run by South Warwickshire Foundation Trust, offers a state-of-the-art cancer unit, ophthalmology unit and community wellbeing hub across three floors.
Trust chief executive Glen Burley said: “The opening of the new Stratford Hospital is such a big moment in the trust’s history. Access to local health services is critical for our communities and this new facility is something we are all very proud of. I would like to thank everyone that has made this possible; staff, fundraisers and donors.”
Here the Observer takes a closer look at the new facilities.
The new ophthalmology unit was the first part of the hospital to open and bosses promise it will ‘revolutionise’ treatment for those in and surrounding Stratford.
The first floor ward will be one of the busiest parts of the hospital, with more than 1,500 arriving on a monthly basis for injections for macular degeneration – the commonest cause of blindness in over 65s.
Many more will receive treatment for cataracts and other conditions.
The eye unit has eight consulting rooms and three treatment rooms, including investigation rooms and an operating theatre.
It is bursting with high technology equipment and bosses say it will make eye care much easier and more accessible for south Warwickshire patients.
And in a bid to make the service less daunting for children there will even be a dedicated area for them to receive treatment.
Shocking statistics show that 30 per cent fewer people in the district refuse chemotherapy compared to nearby Warwick Hospital due to the distance they have to travel, often on a daily basis.
But the unit on the hospital’s top floor should encourage more to undergo treatment, with the facility to have up to 12 people receiving chemotherapy at one time. They will all be sat in upgraded chairs funded through the hospital’s fund-raising appeal – and with treatment taking up to eight hours, comfort will be of high importance.
There will also be two side rooms , an outpatient facility and counselling rooms. It will also house an isolation room – the first of its kind in the Midlands.
An emergency unit will also be available so patients experiencing difficulties can stay at the hospital rather than being taken to nearby Warwick for urgent treatment.
The ward at Stratford Hospital has been named The Rigby Cancer Unit following a huge donation from The Rigby Foundation. The group – which invests in good causes – pledged £250,000 to the hospital’s appeal to fund enhancements. They will also donate an extra £50,000 on an annual basis for the next five years.
Founder Sir Peter Rigby said: “This is a long-term commitment from The Rigby Foundation and looking round the hospital, I am proud of the part we have played in the opening of a state-of-the-art facility.
“After meeting staff and seeing the facilities, we hope the new cancer unit will become a centre of excellence in south Warwickshire to improve treatment and care in the area.”
The ground floor of the hospital is home to Café Lomas – a hub providing support and information to help prevent health conditions.
Visitors will be provided with ‘one-stop’ access to health and wellbeing services across the district by bringing together support organisations in one place.
Café Lomas was named after a Warwickshire farmer Percy Lomas and his sister Roma Lomas, who left their legacy to the hospital’s League of Friends. It has a café, pharmacy, small appointment room and a large function room, which will be available for community groups to use for a range of activities including classes, cooking workshops and health and social events.
Stratford District Citizens Advice will be one of the charity’s operating from the hub, providing free, independent, and confidential advice. They help residents with multiple issues relating to debt, housing and employment as well as welfare benefits, health services and everything in between.
Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action will also have a presence in the hub and link people with voluntary organisations which can offer them support.
They will be joined by a range of other groups ensuring residents know where to go for help, advice and support.