A NEW state-of-the-art surgical centre treating 12,000 patients a year in Northwich is one step closer as work continues on its construction.

A steel frame, which will form the basis of the new build element at the Victoria Infirmary, has arrived at the site and is being put into position.

Once built, the £18.2 million Cheshire and Merseyside Surgical Centre will boast top clinical facilities focussing on ophthalmology and other surgical services, including operating theatres, recovery areas and consulting rooms.

With an opening date earmarked for early 2025, it is hoped the VIN's new facility will reduce waiting times for those patients in need of less complex operations and minor procedures.

There will be an immediate focus on patients who have been waiting more than a year for treatment, as the overall backlog of patients is tackled.

Russ Favager, board senior responsible officer - Leighton new hospital programme and estates redevelopment, said: “It is fantastic we have reached the construction milestone of the arrival of the steel frame on site at Victoria Infirmary Northwich.

"We know how important the VIN is to our local communities and we are delighted that the progression in the development of the centre continues to support our ambitions of bringing care and services closer to home."

It is hoped the surgical centre will treat thousands of patients from across Cheshire and Merseyside, with the facilities purpose built to treat large numbers of patients requiring less complex operations and minor procedures.

The new facility is expected to free up operating theatres at other hospital sites in Cheshire, which could then be used for more complex operations and reduce the waiting times for them. 

Funding for the Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MCHFT) project has been allocated by NHS England, via NSH Cheshire and Merseyside as part of plans to ensure elective surgery is not affected by hospital A&E pressures.

Professor Rowan Pritchard-Jones, medical director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “Across Cheshire and Merseyside, NHS teams are working really hard to address the waiting list that has built up over recent years.

"We’re making great strides and have made significant improvements in our waiting list position.

"The new Cheshire and Merseyside Surgical Centre at Victoria Infirmary Northwich has an ambition to be a cataract centre of excellence, providing eye care for people in Cheshire, meaning that there will be fewer people waiting for eye surgery across the region as well as greatly improving patient experience."

The arrival of the frame at the VIN, which was carefully planned to minimise disruption to the patients, staff and the community, was an impressive sight.

MCHFT has created timelapse footage to show the journey of the frame being placed into position on the Victoria Infirmary site.