New ICU at York Hospital ‘won’t be ready until AFTER winter surge’

A NEW intensive care unit at York Hospital has been signed off by the Government – but a senior consultant fears it won’t be ready until March and after the winter surge in admissions.

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed that a £1.7 million modular unit has been approved for York Hospital – and will provide “much needed extra capacity to care for both Covid and non-Covid patients”.

But a senior doctor at the hospital said the intensive care unit (ICU) – which will be built by Portakabin – will be needed in two to three weeks, as hospital bed capacity becomes stretched. But he said the hospital has been told that it won’t be ready until March.

The trust said work would commence “soon” but could not give a completion date.

The consultant, who did not want to be named, said: “We should be building it now.

“We applied for it back in August, why has it taken so long to be approved?

“This winter has all the hallmarks of approaching hell, and we are now in a very similar situation to the start of lockdown, but this time with less of a lockdown.

“Surely it makes sense to give the city the biggest capacity possible in the season when the virus will be at its most prevalent?

“If it gets as bad as last time, in the peak through March and April, then we will have to cancel routine operations again. This was exactly why we wanted the extra space up and running by November. That looks impossible now.

“We know that York Hospital already gets very full every winter, with flu and other winter infections.”

However, he welcomed the fact that the original plans for a temporary intensive care extension – allowing the hospital’s main theatre to carry out non-Covid operations and prevent a backlog from building up – had been improved upon by the Government, which had agreed a longer-term extension to treat both Covid and non-Covid patients throughout 2021.

The build will include six beds and isolation facilities.

A spokesperson for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are pleased that work has been approved to build a modular unit as an adjunct to existing ICU facilities, to create additional ICU space at York Hospital.

“The much needed extra capacity, which will cost £1.7 million to build, will ensure that we can care for Covid and non-Covid patients who need hospital treatment.”

A spokesperson for Portakabin said: “Since May, Portakabin has been supporting the trust with the business case to secure Government funding for the ICU extension at York Hospital and we continue to work in partnership with the trust.

“We provide a variety of buildings to the NHS and continue to offer solutions when and where they are needed most. We’re incredibly proud to be able to support our nation’s healthcare system at this challenging time.”

The Press asked Portakabin when the build would be finished and opened.

Portakabin said it was “not able to share details of the programme until we’re in the contract”.

York Press | News