PEOPLE in Somerset are set to benefit from improved access to eye care thanks to a brand new £4.4 million ophthalmic theatre suite set to open at Musgrove Park Hospital.
It will mean consultant eye surgeons at the hospital will be able to perform many more operations every week.
Mr Ed Herbert, consultant ophthalmologist at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to improve the service we can offer. The eye unit is the busiest department at Musgrove Park Hospital, carrying out over 3,000 operations every year and providing nearly 50,000 outpatient appointments.
“Historically there has always been a greater demand for surgery than we can meet, leading to long waiting times.
“With new social distancing requirements in place, as well as reduced theatre availability, our ophthalmology patients have inevitably needed to wait longer than we’d wish for a procedure. These new facilities will give greater capacity with the aim of reducing waiting times.”
The suite is being constructed off site as a modular build, complete with all the equipment inside, which means it can be lifted into place with limited disruption to the hospital site.
It will have dedicated changing rooms and private waiting area, as well as rooms for anaesthetists and surgeons to speak confidentially to, and examine, patients before their operation.
Patients will also be able to access the unit direct from the car park without needing to walk through the main hospital building.
This new suite is in addition to a new outpatient macular and glaucoma hub being developed at Chard Hospital, which together will help patients get the excellent eye care they need, in a timely way.
Mr Pradeep Madhavan, orthopaedic consultant at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new unit will be a modern facility that will allow ophthalmic patients to continue with their surgical treatment safely and in time without being unduly affected by conditions in the rest of the hospital and community.
“The project is moving at pace and is a tribute to the team spirit within the department of ophthalmology and expertise and leadership in various parts of our NHS trust.”
Approval for the development is subject to planning permission and Somerset West and Taunton Council will consider this at its planning meeting in early summer.