New hospital ward will help combat cold snap

Victoria Ward finished ahead of schedule

NORTHERN Devon Healthcare Trust is to open a brand new 26-bed medical ward at North Devon District Hospital in time for Christmas.

Building work on the Victoria Ward began in August and was not expected to finish until January; but since the early onset of the cold weather, enormous efforts have been under way to get the ward open early. Parts of the ward have already opened but the remainder is expected to open on Christmas Eve.

The new facility – on Level Four of the Barnstaple hospital – will replace a smaller medical ward and critical care unit. The new layout provides more male and female bays, as well as single rooms to help improve infection control.

The ward will be used for patients needing surgery as well as for those awaiting tests, under observation, or receiving treatment for medical conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.

“The opening of the new ward couldn’t come soon enough,” said the hospital’s head of communications Katherine Allen.

“Normally, the cold weather has a significant effect on our admission levels in January and February, but this winter, snow and ice came early.”

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The Trust said that hospital admissions were higher than average for the time of year, with around 30-35 admissions via the Accident and Emergency department during the last week alone.

“Medical admissions have typically been 20-25 per cent up in the past week, but there has been lots of variation from day-to-day,” said Mrs Allen.

“We saw quite a lot of slips and falls, so we hope this will ease up a bit as the weather thaws.”

As well as opening part of the Victoria Ward earlier than expected, the Trust has brought forward its planned bed openings from January to the end of November.

It is now operating eight additional medical beds and seven surgical beds in Barnstaple, as well as extra beds in the community hospitals to ease discharges. These include four in South Molton, four in Bideford and four in Holsworthy.

Kate Lyons, director of operations said: “There’s been quite a bit of pressure with the icy weather, but we’ve responded quickly and our staff have been terrific.”

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