A PLANNING application to build two new wards at Hereford County Hospital has been described as a "landmark moment."

Wye Valley NHS Trust has applied to knock down the outdated Canadian huts, including the Leadon and Monnow Wards, within the hospital grounds and build two 24-bed wards over two floors, providing an extra ten beds.

It marks a significant milestone in the history of the hospital on the city centre site – the two new wards would be the first permanent new build on the site since the hospital was opened in 2002.

The trust is seeking approval of NHS Improvement (the body which monitors the performance of NHS hospital Trusts in England) to fund the £15 million project.

Managing director Jane Ives said: “This is a landmark moment for Hereford County Hospital and is a key stage of a programme of work to increase our capacity at the site to help us cope with the pressures we are experiencing.

“The planning application signals our ambition to deliver safe and effective care in modern and efficient surroundings and there’s no doubt that the new state-of-the-art facility will give our patients a better experience while in our care.”

The current hutted wards have been rated as a risk to the trust due to their age – there are concerns something as simple as a leaky roof could result in the wards having to be evacuated.

Christian Homersley, the trust’s estates manager, said: “Four further huts next to these hutted wards are used to house medical records and are used as offices. Under the proposed plans these huts will be demolished to make way for the new wards.

“We’re aware that the huts are sub-optimal and our staff members are doing an amazing job providing fantastic care in out-of-date buildings which have been modified and adapted over the years."

The first phase of the project, which is now underway, involves relocating the medical records and staff currently in the huts used as offices. Once these are empty, the huts will then be demolished to make way for the new wards.

Once the new wards are built, patients will be moved out of the Leadon and Monnow Wards, which would then be demolished. This site would then be available for further development if required.

Subject to planning permission being granted and NHS Improvement agreeing to fund the project, it is anticipated that the new wards could open their doors to their first patients in 2020.

There is a meeting about the plans open to the public on March 26 at 6.30pm at Hereford County Hospital, Post Graduate Medical Centre.