There are just under five months to go until Swindon’s brand-new urgent and emergency care development opens its doors.  

The £33.5million urgent and emergency care expansion will be the biggest ever investment to the Great Western Hospital site and follows the opening of the Urgent Treatment Centre and OUH Radiotherapy @ Swindon Centre in 2022, which already represent a huge investment in Swindon’s healthcare infrastructure.

With a 60 per cent bigger footprint, the new emergency department, and accompanying children’s emergency unit and improved same-day emergency care service, will ensure unplanned healthcare provision is fit for the increasing demand and growing population of the town.

Since £26.3million of Government funding was secured in January last year, in addition to £7.2million from the Trust, construction to build a new department has been happening at a fast pace. 

Swindon Advertiser: Inside the new emergency department at Swindon's Great Western Hospital

The new emergency department will see an increase in ‘majors cubicles’ from 15 to 22 which will be more private with glass doors instead of curtains, and individual environmental controls such as dimmable lighting.

To support patients in a more critical or life-threatening condition, there will be an increase in resuscitation cubicles from four to seven – with one new resus bay dedicated to children.

There will also be a secluded room for patients in mental health crisis, a more comfortable observation area and two supportive relatives’ rooms set away from the bustle of the main department.

Work is also underway to improve urgent and emergency care for under 18s, with the Trust also set to open a new children’s emergency unit, which is the first of its kind on the hospital site, bringing together children’s emergency care with paediatric assessment.

The children’s emergency unit will have 13 cubicles, two high acuity bays and one resuscitation bay, a baby and breastfeeding room, a sensory plan room for children who are neurodiverse and a well-being room for younger patients arriving in mental health crisis.

Natalie Lawrence, lead nurse for the urgent and emergency care development, said: “It’s a really exciting time for the organisation, as we move towards a real improvement to our delivery of care for some of the sickest patients in the local area.

Swindon Advertiser: Inside the new emergency department at Swindon's Great Western Hospital

“We will be making big changes to the way we provide this care in the new department, and are already looking at how we can better streamline services to make them more efficient, and to ensure that patients are treated in the right place, first time.

“We’ve also been working with local people to ensure that the interiors of the building best meet all care needs, including representation from the dementia, learning disability and autism communities, children and young persons mental health, carers, wheelchair users and people with neurodiversities."

Julian Auckland-Lewis, director for the Trust’s Way Forward Programme, added: “When the hospital was opened in 2002, the Emergency Department was designed to care for around 48,000 patients a year. As the local population has grown, the urgent and emergency services now see over 100,000 patients a year – more than double.

“It is hoped that the increase in physical capacity in the new departments, and new ways of working that are more innovative and efficient, will result in shorter waiting times for our patients and less ambulances queuing to handover patients."

“We also continue to work hard with our partners in the Trust’s own Integrated Care Alliance Coordination Centre, and more widely across Swindon and Wiltshire, to ensure patients are treated in the right place.”

The new Emergency Department is set to open in the summer, with the Children’s Emergency Unit, Same Day Emergency Care and Medical Assessment Units following in the autumn.