FUNDING of £15m has been earmarked for plans to turn Halton Hospital into a 'centre of excellence' for planned care.

The money will be used to expand kidney and renal care at the hospital though, controversially, emergency facilities will be transferred to Halton.

News that the money has been set aside by Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority (SHA) came as the public consultation into the proposed transfer of services came to an end.

Project director Mark Ogden-Meade said: 'Naturally the Trust is delighted that the SHA has confirmed that this money will be available, subject to an acceptable business case, if our proposals for providing better care and services to our patients are accepted.

'These proposals would ensure a thriving future for Halton Hospital not only as a centre of excellence for planned inpatient and day-case surgery but also for a range of other exciting developments. These include improved endoscopy services, an emergency assessment service for GPs and a new 'one stop' service for diagnostic tests.'

Halton Primary Care Trust and Halton Borough Council have also welcomed the news about the capital funding for the proposed developments at Halton and Warrington hospitals.

The Trust hopes to invest about £7m at Halton Hospital during the next two years, £3.5m of which will come from the SHA and the remainder from NHS national schemes and charitable funding.

Dwayne Johnson, strategic director for health and community at the council, said: 'We share the Trust's delight that such a substantial sum of money has been earmarked by the Strategic Health Authority to improve hospital services for the people of Halton.

'However, we have made clear to the Trust our concern about transport issues and have asked them to do more detailed work in this critical area.'

The Trust has promised to provide a shuttle bus between Halton and Warrington hospitals and is working with the local authority in a bid to strengthen transport arrangements.

The public's consultation response will be independently analysed by the University of Chester.

The Trust's decision on the way forward will be made on July 24.

The proposals > > >

The proposals

THE eight-week consultation was one of the most comprehensive in North Cheshire.

More than 110,000 copies of a summary were delivered to households in Halton and Warrington and 1,000 copies of a more detailed consultation document were distributed to hospital clinics, statutory and voluntary groups, libraries and some GP surgeries and health centres.

Both had pre-paid forms for comments on the proposals and suggestions for other ways to improve local health services.


* Retaining the minor injuries unit and outpatients.

* A new centre of excellence for routine, planned inpatient and day-case surgery.

* New daytime emergency referral services.

* A new kidney dialysis unit, provided by a national team and removing the need for patients to travel to Warrington.

* An expanded chemotherapy unit (to provide local services and reduce the need for cancer patients to travel to Clatterbridge in Wirral).

* Improved endoscopy services.


* A new centre of excellence for acute medicine, with more emergency beds.

* Centralised and expanded critical care in a purpose-built unit.

* A new kidney dialysis unit, provided by a national team to replace the existing unit and increase capacity.