MOTHERS face giving birth in a temporary building in a hospital car park after the labour suite was identified as ‘high risk’ with ‘significant risk of equipment failure’.
The Countess of Chester Hospital is preparing to refurbish theatres five-nine and the central labour suite (CLS) after the condition of the theatres was identified as a “high risk priority” by the trust.
Now hundreds of patients awaiting operations and mothers preparing to give birth could be operated on in a steel-plated temporary theatre separated from the hospital’s staff and visitor car parks by a row of trees and a white fence.
In a statement posted as part of an application to Cheshire West and Chester Council planning department for the retention of a temporary theatre block on the Countess of Chester Health Park, the trust reveals that if the equipment was to fail there would be ‘no contingency’ and disruption could continue for an ‘indeterminate period of time’.
The statement reads: “There is a significant risk of partial or complete failure of the theatre equipment, which will further increase over time.
“Failure would lead to significant operational disruption, with no contingency, for an indeterminate period of time.”
The refurbishment of the theatres is likely to take a total of three years, with each being out of action for six months, while the trust replaces the 30-year-old Air Handling Units (AHUs) which supply clean, conditioned air to the theatres and refurbish medical gases, electrical and fire safety and surgeons control panels.
Patients have been undergoing surgery in the temporary theatre since it was built in July 2010, while the Countess refurbished theatres one-four, but with permission set to run out on New Year’s Eve, the trust is hoping to retain the structure for a further five years while the remaining theatres are refurbished and help deal with growing service demand while the hospital gains permission for a brand new theatre block.
Tim Lynch, director of operational services at the Countess, reassured patients that the current theatres were not a risk to patient safety, saying: “The information contained within the ‘Design and Access Statement’ includes terminology relating to the theatres’ infrastructure but this does not include any aspect of the patient care environment.
“We would like to make it clear that there are no patient safety risks associated with our theatres unit.”