Health bosses have secured funding for the construction of £23.6m worth of new facilities at Hereford County Hospital.

Wye Valley NHS Trust chief executive Glen Burley told the annual general meeting at Shirehall yesterday that securing the investment was a 'momentous occasion' for the hospital.

The funding will go towards replacing the suite of Canadian hutted wards which were built in the 1940s and used extensively during World War II.

The new £23.6 million wards will provide 72 beds - an extra 34 over and above the capacity provided in the two hutted wards still in use for inpatients at the hospital.

"It's taken us a long time to get to this point but it means we will no longer have to provide 21st century care in hutted wards built nearly a century ago," Mr Burley said.

"The new wards will significantly improve patient experience, including privacy and dignity, and will provide modern patient ward facilities fit for the future."

The trust secured planning permission for the three-storey building earlier this year and is now finalising a detailed business case which wil go to NHS Improvement for ratification.

"I'd like to thank NHSI for the support they have given us and their decision to allocate money for our new wards," Mr Burley said.

"It's essential we get value from every pound we spend and we appreciate the rigour and thoroughness they have given to our business plans which spell out the rationale for the new building."

Trust managing director Jane Ives said the announcement meant they can progress with the largest investment to increase bed capacity in the hospital since the site opened in 2002.

"These are exciting times at the trust with a raft of improvements in many areas.

"But with the continuing increase in demand it's essential that while we are doing all we can to improve our efficiency and the quality of care we provide, we also increase our capacity to enable us to cope with more patients."

Hereford MP Jesse Norman, who lobbied Health Secretary Matt Hancock to fund the scheme, said it was great news for Herefordshire.

"Matt understood that replacing the hutted wards is a huge symbol of the importance of new investment in the hospital," he said.

"Coming after the announcement of funding for the Hereford Medical Centre, this is a huge boost for the county as a whole."

While the health trust has invested heavily in caring for more people in their homes, there has seen a ten per cent increase in the number of patients attending the emergency department - a total of 60,560 attended last year.

The trust has also seen a 14,2 per cent increase in the number of patients it admitted to hospital last year - an extra 7,089.

"The great news is that despite these challenges, we've reduced the number of patients waiting more than 52 weeks from 137 to none during the last 12 months and overall we've seen an increase of siex per cent in productivity and we've saved £10 million," Ms Ives said.

"The extra beds will give us the capacity we need to care for our patients in an environment which reflects the high quality of care we provide.

"This is great news for the trust, for our staff but most importantly for our patients."