THE Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital has been given the government go-ahead and £7million to build a new emergency medical unit.

The 31-bed extension should cut waiting times at the adjoining casualty unit and enable the quick and easy admission of injured and sick patients for medical care.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has approved the government contribution for a £10m 'Emergency Care Village' at the front of the Royal Blackburn.

It will enable swifter patient transfers from its Accident and Emergency Department by merging existing two acute medical units to complement new short-stay emergency care provision for casualties still able to walk.

The new unit will cater for patients who having attended A and E need to be admitted to the hospital for a longer stay.

As well as freeing up slots in the casualty department, the new 'express treatment' unit will free up beds and space in the main hospital to allow ward refurbishments and more patient admissions.

With the East Lancashire Hospitals Trust finding the rest of the cash, construction on an existing car park will start in the summer for completion in winter next year.

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ELHT chief executive Kevin Magee said: “The announcement of this further significant investment into purpose-built emergency care facilities at the Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital is fantastic news for patients, staff and everyone in East Lancashire.

“We are delighted to receive approval for our business case which releases the funding necessary to improve delivery of emergency and urgent care services which are fully integrated within the local health and care system."

Th new unit, in the final stages of design, will provide 31 beds and further improvements, including a higher-support bedded area, staff teaching facilities and a dedicated inpatient pharmacy.

Hospital bosses believe the new unit will lead to reduced length of stay in A and E and fewer unnecessary transfers of care while preparing its emergency services for a future when people live longer.

ELHT Medical Director Professor Damian Riley said: “On average 120 patients are admitted per day through our existing acute medical units. Bringing the two together will create a cohesive unit able to function as one. The trust will be able to improve timely access to senior medical staff for emergency patients, reduce unnecessary admissions and shorten length of stay.”

Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said: "I've met with many local people who have said that waiting times at Blackburn A&E are a concern. I'm pleased Mr Hancock has confirmed the £7 million for the hospital to expand and improve these facilities."