A unit for children and premature babies will be the first to be constructed by Northampton General Hospital under its expansion plans.
The town’s two MPs will meet chief executive Dr Sonia Swart in the coming weeks to discuss how to bid for Government funding.
Dr Swart said that top of NGH’s shopping list was a new multi-storey block that would house the equivalent of Gosset, Paddington and Disney wards as well as the children’s emergency assessment unit.
The current wards could then be filled with offices and other non-medical uses.
Dr Swart said the wards were currently too old and “cramped” and that, although the vast majority of parents praised the care on offer, many felt the ward environment was sub-standard.
Gosset Ward is currently closed for refurbishment but managers believe that is a short term solution.
Dr Swart said: “If you walked onto our children’s wards at the moment, or the neo-natal unit, you wouldn’t be very impressed with the quality of the estate or environment.
“Gosset improvements are make do and mend. If you walk around paedeatrics and Gosset they are too small and not fit for purpose and very old.
“There are parts of the hospital like that which would have first call perhaps for new facilities.
“Is it really right that we have facilities that are so old and out-dated and cramped? I would say ‘no’. So we would prioritise that.”
The hospital is currently doing a feasibility study on the first phase of its expansion plan.
Dr Swart emphasised children still had very good care as things stood but it could be improved.
“The assessment unit is very nice but the other wards are cramped, the spaces for cots are smaller than we would like, its difficult for the parents to stay with the children because of that space issue.
“As parents become more aware and demanding, its difficult to compensate for that,” she said.
At a new unit, the staff and doctors will be the same, but the environment you treat people in has an impact on how they feel.
“If you were to build a paedeatric unit today, this would not meet the standards we would want,” Dr Swart said.
A likely location for the new building would be near Billing House, which is to the north of the site, off Cliftonville.
The paedeatric unit would take up only part of the building, with other unspecified wards on
Any building on the scale being suggested would cost several millions of pounds.
With NHS budgets tight, managers know they have to convince the Government they can hit targets to put themselves near the front of the queue for capital investment.
It will likely take several years for building work to begin.
The Chron reported in January that NGH bosses want to double the footprint of the main building but had not specified their priorities.