Blueprints to support efforts to bring leading researchers to Wrightington Hospital have been unveiled by NHS chiefs in Wigan.
Bosses at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) say that proposals to overhaul grade II listed Wrightington Hall should also mean around 7,000 patients do not face treks across the North West for vital CT or MRI scans.
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But first hospital officials will have to overcome possible obstacles as the hall, the family seat of the once powerful Wrightington family, is located in the green belt.
Trust leaders say though that the combined benefits of their ambitious scheme create “special circumstances” which should allow West Lancs District Council to approve their submissions.
In recent years WWL, building on Wrightington’s reputation as a world-renowned centre for orthopaedic surgery, building on the pioneering work of Prof Sir John Charnley with hip replacements in the early ’60s, has invested heavily in the site.
An £18m state-of-the-art theatres complex opened in 2016 and the facility retains a reputation for cutting-edge medical research.
The latest development would see a nurses’ accommodation wing at the hall, constructed in the late 1920s and not included in the listing, completely demolished and the erection of a new extension, with 97 extra car parking spaces.
Supporters of the initiative argue that the hall is currently only 30 per cent occupied, as the nurses’ wing has been redundant since the 1980s.
Several medical degrees are also offered at Wrightington by Edge Hill University, in partnership with WWL, and an existing lecture theatre located there is said to currently be insufficient for their requirements. The clinical trials section would also be housed there.
Planning agent Andy McMullan said: “The hospital does not currently have the facility to undertake scanning on site and this results in over 7,000 patients a year having to travel elsewhere within the locality to undergo these procedures.”
The redevelopment would allow for scanning services to be provided at Wrightington, he says, and prevent patients being forced to travel across Lancashire and beyond for appointments. Mr McMullan added: “Wrightington Hall currently contains a lecture theatre which does not meet the educational requirements of the provider. It is therefore proposed to have an improved theatre.
“Students benefit from the educational facility within the hospital grounds and it is for this reason that this element of the scheme needs to be on site to be most effective.
“The second floor of the proposed extension is to be used for groundbreaking medical research that, as with the educational element, needs to be in a hospital location to benefit from the crossover that each service provides.”
Around 28 posts would be based at the development if it was to go ahead, according to the trust’s application.
View the documents at http://webdocs.westlancs.gov.uk/NPSPublicDocs/00629505.pdf