Plans revealed for 'state-of-the-art' surgical training academy at Wigan hospital

A state-of-the-art training academy for surgeons from across the UK and abroad could be built in Wigan.
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A planning application has been submitted for a new building at Wrightington Hospital to replace the existing surgical training academy in Grade II-listed Wrightington Hall.

The hospital specialises in orthopaedic surgery and the new single-storey academy would have a cadaveric suite and a host of other facilities.

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Grade II-listed Wrightington Hall, on the grounds of Wrightington Hospital, which currently houses training facilitiesGrade II-listed Wrightington Hall, on the grounds of Wrightington Hospital, which currently houses training facilities
Grade II-listed Wrightington Hall, on the grounds of Wrightington Hospital, which currently houses training facilities
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A design and access statement says: “The trust has the ambition to provide internationally renowned research and education facilities at Wrightington, but the current facilities are not of sufficient size or in optimum condition to fulfil this ambition.

“The vision for a surgical training academy is to provide state-of-the-art, life-long, learning facilities for surgeons and future surgeons across the UK and internationally, space for research and space for innovative testing of new approaches to care and implants.

“The proposed solution is a purpose-built facility focusing on a cadaveric suite, with digital systems that can provide international education.”

Two empty single-storey buildings – known as the John Charnley Research Centre and Synexus – would be demolished if the plans were approved.

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The new academy would have a cadaveric suite with 12 procedure stations, plus two additional spaces for robotic surgical demonstrations and two dry

simulation tables.

A cadaveric prep suite would provide cold and freezer storage, as well as an instrument cleaning process and cadaver preparation space.

The facilities would also include a seminar room for live streaming of procedures and seminar style-learning, as well as a break-out space for dining and informal gatherings.

A reception area, admin office for four people and delegate changing, lockers and showers will be provided, along with back-of-house facilities including an equipment store and plant room.

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While the building will be on a brownfield site, the main hospital is on green belt land. But the application argues there are “very special circumstances” that should allow the development to go ahead – the need for the facility, the contribution it will make to the local economy and the lack of alternative locations.

The trust’s business case, quoted in the design and access statement, says: “The closest cadaveric facilities are located at the universities of Manchester and Keele; it is important for our reputation that we have the capability to compete for courses by having first-class facilities. Other, non-corporate facilities at Leicester, Brighton, Bristol, Guildford, Edinburgh and Cambridge are available although less likely to be our competition.

"From a revenue perspective, we also have an opportunity to maximise on commercial commitments because the only other commercial cadaveric facilities in the country and located in Birmingham and Watford, making us the only commercial cadaveric facility for the north of England.

"The geographical advantage, together with the reputation for orthopaedic excellence that Wrightington offers, will make us a highly competitive provider of surgical education.”

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A consultation period is now under way, before West Lancashire Council makes a decision on the planning application.

A hospital spokesperson said: “We are working with partners to develop plans for a state-of-the-art, life-long surgical training facility with space for research and innovation. These plans are still in the early stages, with no timescales yet confirmed for delivery of the project.”