New services being considered for Berwick Infirmary

Talks on the potential for additional health services at Berwick once the new infirmary has been built are underway, the project leader has confirmed.

By Andrew Coulson
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:39 pm
An aerial image showing demolition works at the Berwick Infirmary site in November 2021.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has given an update on the remaining demolition works at the site, which are set to take place later this month.

And Marion Dickson, who is also the trust's executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, has spoken of her excitement at the scheme entering a key phase – as it is hoped that the remaining archaeology assessments will be completed within the next three months.

Originally built in 1874, the current infirmary is no longer suitable for the efficient delivery of modern-day healthcare.

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The new hospital will re-provide all existing services – with the addition of an accredited endoscopy suite, as well as housing GP practice Well Close Medical Group.

And speaking to the Gazette this week, Mrs Dickson said: “We have taken on additional consultants and although I can’t say anything specific on this at the moment, I can say that we are having discussions to try to bring further appropriate services to Berwick where possible.”

She added: “All being well, the demolition of the old chimney and the building that was the energy centre will take place at the end of this month.

“It will be coming down by hand and with the use of a grabber.

“This will then allow the final archaeological dig to take place and hopefully this work will be completed in June or July, which will then allow our teams to start the enabling works ahead of the infirmary construction.

“The findings so far have been very interesting and the people of Berwick have enjoyed seeing the work being carried out when the viewing platform was in place – in fact, I’m told that school pupils are still mentioning their visit to the site.

“Things are moving on very nicely and it’s great that we can look ahead to the construction work starting.

“The people of Berwick have been very patient as the project as progressed and we’re extremely grateful.

"Our staff have been brilliant too in ensuring that important care services have kept going to the same high standard during this period.”

In recent weeks, the workers from Northern Archaeological Associates have found an ancient toilet, a well that contained the nearly complete remains of a pony or donkey and new evidence relating to the town’s medieval fortifications.

Mrs Dickson said that the final sign off for the archaeology team to leave the site is needed from Northumberland County Council.

She also said that graffiti images produced by students at Berwick Academy will be used on the hoardings at the site and the trust is working on an art strategy for a section of the new hospital that “will show the whole story”.

As part of the strategy, engagement sessions where local artists will be invited are set to take place in May. Specific dates will be announced in due course.