Builders moved in at Stamford Hospital this week to start a long-awaited £2m redevelopment of the site.
The first phase of the Stamford Hospital redevelopment project started on Monday and is expected to last for about six months.
The first phase includes the expansion of the outpatient department by creating additional rooms for adults and children, including a separate waiting area for children; adding a second ultrasound machine on site to double the number of patients who can attend locally; an improved physiotherapy gym and a new department for the pain management team.
Once all the work is done, more than 500 additional outpatient appointments will also be undertaken each week.
In addition, a new bariatric MRI scanner is being installed to expand the existing imaging services provided at Stamford, which will increase the patient attendance to an additional 8,000 visits per year.
The range of patients that can use the machine will also be expanded as the current facilities have limitations to the types of scan that can be done.
Delivery of the scanner is expected on Sunday, January 8, with the MRI scanner planned to be operational from February 2017.
The subsequent two phases will see the creation of an enlarged phlebotomy department, a new chemotherapy and lymphoedema suite, a new imaging booking office, redecoration and refurbishment of existing corridors and reception area as well as other upgrades throughout the building.
Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Trust, which owns both Stamford Hospital and Peterborough City Hospital, is funding the project although some pieces of equipment have been funded either fully or partially by kind donations.
This year, The Friends of Stamford Hospital funded a £27,000 optometry machine so the hospital can take biometry measurements of eyes prior to surgery. Before, patients had to travel to Peterborough for this.
Matron and site manager at the hospital Sue Brooks said everyone was very excited about the redevelopment.
She said: “I’ve worked at the hospital for eight years now and a redevelopment has been talked about for that entire time, and probably even before, so it is fantastic to see it finally coming to fruition.
“I think it will make such a big difference to patients, especially those living in the Stamford area, to be able to provide more services here.”
Mrs Brooks said all staff had been consulted on the redevelopment and had been involved in the redesigning of rooms.
Patients services will not be disrupted while the work is being carried out.
The work is being done by local construction company Ayres and Gardner.
The trust said the work was necessary to deliver modern standards of care and give a good patient experience closer to home. Forty per cent of the trust’s patients come from South Lincolnshire.
The redevelopment plans were approved last year but progress was interrupted while the trust awaited news of its NHS funding.
Comprehensive site investigations were carried out last summer in preparation for the work to be done, including an archaeological dig. This uncovered skeletal remains believed to have dated back to when a friary was on site. They were left in situ.
Work was also done to replace an electrical generator and to improve the Friary Cafe. The food options offered to inpatients have also been improved through the introduction of a new catering service.
Assistant director of system transformation Polly Grimmett, said: “These much needed changes will provide improvements to the local hospital for the people of Stamford, which will give additional services on their doorstep.”