MAJOR work costing nearly £1 million has started at Ludlow Hospital.

It has begun almost a year after plans for a new £27 million hospital and health village was scrapped following Government changes to the NHS.

The Friends of Ludlow Hospital welcome the improvements but say that key decisions still remain about the configuration of the wards.

Jan Ditheridge, the chief executive of Shropshire Community NHS Trust, has said that changes are taking into account consultations.

“We have been working with the Task Force, including the League of Friends, patient groups, the Shrewsbury and Telford hospital NHS Trust, the local mental health NHS trust, local councillors and others, on improvements to the hospital,” she said in the newsletter of the Hospital League of Friends.

She said an engineering and buildings report had identified the important things that need doing to the hospital.

“Last year we commissioned a specialist building and engineering report to advise what should be spent at the hospital to keep the site safe and fit for purpose over the next three to five years,” Jan Ditheridge added.

“That report suggested spending £900k on improvements covering the physical condition of the hospital, health and safety, fire assessment, mechanical and electrical works.

“Work began on May 6 this year on many of those improvements, including improvements to the patient environment on both Stretton and Dinham Wards at Ludlow Hospital.

“These improvements include replacing floor coverings and sanitary wear, providing a new nurses’ station, new doors and redecoration throughout and implementing other suggestions raised by staff and patients.

“A separate review is also underway for the Maternity Unit. More energy efficient lighting has also been installed at the hospital, using funding received from the Department of Health.

“Another short term improvement is the addition of ultrasound at the hospital.

“Meanwhile we are considering how the rest of the building improvements should be prioritised and then carried out.

“NHS Property Services, the owner of the building, have offered a 10 year lease, which was welcomed by the Task Force, when we shared this news with them.”

Peter Corfield, chairman of the League of Friends, has said that the group is actively involved with the improvements.

“The hospital café has been refurnished and redecorated and a new range of menus will be launched shortly to coincide with the introduction of a patient guide to hospital catering,” he said.

“Signage around the hospital is also being reviewed to improve way-finding and to remove redundant signs.

“Many long overdue maintenance issues are also being carried out in parallel to keep disruption to a minimum.

“The League is providing funds for a relatives' room, including appropriate and comfortable surroundings for those who need to be close at hand during the critical phase of a patient’s illness.

“Additionally we anticipate contributing towards the cost of improved equipment and facilities for the maternity unit.

"We will also examine the feasibility of providing individual TV and radio facilities to patients in Dinham and Stretton wards.”

n See page eight for more on the refurbished hospital café.