The £7.6m community assessment unit will deliver a new type of healthcare and is designed to help reduce emergency admissions. It will also ensure older patients can return home more quickly and with an appropriate care plan in place.

The handover marks the completion of the project delivered by Shrewsbury-based firm Darwin Group, specialists in offsite construction.

Despite the operational challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) has continued to work on this project which will be managed by the its community services division, supported by health partners across the borough.

The new community assessment unit

This major investment will see the introduction of 21 new community beds, including nine single rooms, with a further six assessment chairs.

It comes as the community team has developed new ways of working which focus on encouraging patient enablement and independence.

Silas Nicholls, chief executive of WWL, said: “The handover is an important milestone for the project to deliver what will be a vital component in our ability to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

“The community assessment unit will help ease the pressure on admissions, particularly in the winter months, and meet the needs of our ageing population in terms of providing additional support for those patients where hospital admission can be avoided and the appropriate care plan for recovery in their own home or residential setting.

“It has been an immense task to deal with the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic, but our community, support staff and Darwin Group have shown incredible commitment and resilience to reach this stage and we are delighted to formally take possession of the unit.”

Alan Davidson, healthcare director at Darwin Group, said: “We are proud to have been able to work with the trust and to deliver such high-quality ward accommodation. Not only will this provide much-needed additional patient accommodation and storage space for the whole site, but we have also future-proofed the building so it can be added to vertically if needed, giving the trust a potential solution to address future service demand.

“Our site team’s management of health and safety and our use of modern methods of construction have allowed us to work without interruption and deliver the project during national lockdowns, while meeting social distancing requirements and industry best practice. We are really pleased at how our team has pulled together to complete this project and overcome all challenges ensuring the safety of each other and everybody involved with the project.”

Philip Bliss, divisional medical director for community services, added: “The community assessment unit is a new venture for WWL. It is the first purpose-built, community-focused unit on the RAEI site, dedicated to the holistic assessment and treatment for some of the more frail and elderly patients coming through our services.

“It is very much focused on a reablement approach, to allow patients to return to their own home environment in a safe and supported manner. This will enable patients to make the most of their potential to continue to live an independent and fulfilling life.”

The unit is on the site of the former pathology lab and will have links physically and operationally to the hospital. It will be officially opened next month.

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