North Devon District Hospital is to get more than £2.3million to prepare for winter, improve A and E and separate Covid-19 patients.

The £2.346m for Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) is part of the Government’s £300m funding for A and E departments in England to upgrade, with work to be completed by the start of 2021.

Darryn Allcorn, chief nurse at NDHT, said: “This is a very welcome investment, which will be used to take forward plans to develop our urgent care services, taking into account the need to manage Covid-19 alongside our usual winter pressures.”

It is part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘New Deal for Britain’, which allocated a total of £1.5billion this year for hospital maintenance, hospital building and A and E expansion.

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby said staff at the trust had worked tirelessly over recent months and she thanked them for everything they had done to get the community through the coronavirus pandemic.

She said: “While we hope for the best this winter, it is right that we plan for the worst. This funding to upgrade A and E services at the hospital in Barnstaple will ensure that we are in the best possible position for the challenges that the winter months may bring.”

Mr Allcorn said the trust was ‘taking a prioritised approach’ to plans for improvements around patient flow and care.

He added: “This funding will be used to support the trust’s first priority for development, which will be expanding our same day emergency care (SDEC) service by making some changes to our acute admissions areas (Medical Assessment Unit, GP Receiving Unit and Surgical Assessment Unit).

“This will include ensuring we can separate Covid and non-Covid patients in order to keep them safe and minimise the risk of transmission.”

The funding comes on top of the additional £3bn the Prime Minister recently announced to help prepare the NHS for the winter months.

The government said this will allow the NHS to continue to use the extra hospital capacity acquired from the independent sector through the pandemic and also to maintain the Nightingale hospitals until the end of March next year.

Ms Saxby said: “The NHS is my top priority and I was elected last December on a promise to deliver record NHS investment and level up the health service across the country and with our hospital being the smallest and one of the most remote on the British mainland, that is more important for North Devon than anywhere else.

“I am delighted to see the Conservatives in Government getting on with doing exactly that.”