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Addenbrooke’s Hospital ‘considers emergency expansion plan’ for coronavirus peak

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The NHS trust that runs Addebrooke’s is considering building temporary new facilities next to the hospital to provide 120 extra beds for coronavirus patients, according to Liberal Democrat councillors.

They said an area of hard-standing on the site to the south of the recently-constructed multi-storey car park could be used.

Cllr Amanda Taylor at the site on Cambridge Biomedical Campus
Cllr Amanda Taylor at the site on Cambridge Biomedical Campus

The site is earmarked for the future construction of a new Addenbrooke’s and for the planned Cambridge Children’s hospital.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would not seek the usual planning permission, according to the councillors, and the structure is expected to be temporary.

The group of city and county councillors representing Queen Edith’s - George Pippas, Colin McGerty, Jennifer Page-Croft, Amanda Taylor and Barbara Ashwood - say they support the approach if the trust decides it is necessary.

Speaking for the group, county councillor Amanda Taylor said: “In times like these, everyone understands and supports Addenbrooke’s in responding as it judges right in order to keep on providing treatment and saving lives. This is a global emergency, almost like a third world war.

”Addenbrooke’s is on the front line and under great pressure. Patients and staff must be given the facilities they need to fight off the pandemic. There should be no question of the council taking enforcement action in these circumstances.

“Planning in relation to the Biomedical Campus is often controversial in our area, but at times like this the need to act fast is unchallengeable. People are proud of the fantastic contribution Addenbrooke's and their brave staff are making in this crisis and this is not the moment to stand on procedure.”

City councillor George Pippas said: “We are encouraged that the hospitals trust is being open with planning officers about their intentions.

“We understand that the land in question already has outline, but not full planning permission for development, though not for these temporary facilities. It remains important the creation of temporary facilities without planning permission like this doesn’t pre-empt the way the site is used in the longer run. In due course that must still be subject to thorough planning process, applying all the normal criteria, with full opportunity for public involvement.

“We will be seeking these assurances from planning officers as soon as we are able next week - and are confident about receiving them.”

A spokesman for Cambridge University Hospitals told the Cambridge Independent: “The ‘2020’ land behind the hospital, opposite the entrance to the Rosie, is where we will be building Addenbrooke’s 3 and Cambridge Children’s. It was always the plan to start flattening that in readiness for the new builds. However, it clearly is land that could be used for additional capacity in the current crisis if needed, but no decision has been taken on that yet.”

On Friday, the trust’s chief executive, Roland Sinker, indicated all options were under consideration as we head towards the anticipated peak of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“When we think about saving the lives of our patients we are thinking about both Covid-19 positive patients and also those who may be entirely reliant on our specialised clinical services in cancer care, transplantation, neurosurgery and more,” he said.

“This balance is at the forefront of our minds as we move into the next phase of our planning. We are working across the whole region and with the private sector to explore all available options to keep both aspects of our services running as effectively as possible in the coming weeks and months.”

He said seven patients with Covid-19 had died at Addenbrooke’s, which was admitting eight to 10 patients a day.

A peak demand of 460 beds has been forecast by the NHS trust.

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