Work begins on new acute assessment hub at Musgrove Park Hospital

Work has begun to develop a new £12.5 million multi-specialty acute assessment hub at Musgrove Park Hospital.

Patients who may need urgent surgery at the hospital will benefit from the new purpose-built hub as it will bring surgeons, emergency doctors and other healthcare professionals closer together, and provide a much better environment for patients and staff.

The development involves moving the hospital’s current surgical assessment unit closer to the emergency and X-Ray departments, which will enable patients to be assessed by surgical teams more rapidly to determine whether they require emergency surgery or can be discharged home.

The new hub, which is due to open to patients in early 2022, is a major part of the Musgrove 2030 programme – creating state-of-the-art buildings that offer patients safe, effective, and personalised care, based on the most advanced treatments, technology, and innovations in healthcare.

Mr Alan Dunkley, an orthopaedic consultant at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said he was pleased that work had started on the new acute assessment hub.

“The development of an acute assessment hub next to our emergency department is great news for people who need an urgent surgical assessment at our hospital,” he said.

“It means for the first time ever at Musgrove Park Hospital, patients referred by their GP for a review of an urgent orthopaedic problem, such as a joint infection or severe spinal problems, will be seen in a specific assessment area rather than at the busy emergency department as at present.

“While many planned operations are carried out in our day surgery centre, this new hub will provide a more suitable environment to allow us to assess whether patients require emergency surgery, or even if we can avoid them needing a stay in hospital.

“Being closer together will also improve working relationships between our hospital medics, surgeons and emergency department clinicians, as they’ll be able to ask for an expert opinion without needing to walk across the whole hospital or make a telephone call – this can only be a good thing for our patients.

“The new hub is much closer to our imaging department, so our patients are likely to get a diagnosis more quickly to help clinicians put a comprehensive plan in place for their care – whether that be surgery or other treatment.

“It’ll also improve the general experience of patients in so many ways. For example, it will significantly reduce the distance that patients need to be wheeled down public corridors, which isn’t a pleasant experience.

“Another huge benefit of the new hub is the greater space available, which will create additional areas for clinicians and patients to have important confidential conversations.”

The Musgrove 2030 programme involves phasing out many of the older hospital buildings over the next decade.

“Our current surgical assessment unit is located in the hospital’s old building, which dates back to the Second World War and is sadly no longer fit for purpose for modern healthcare,” Mr Dunkley continued.

“We know that while our colleagues provide outstanding care, the environment in this area is less good and the general maintenance on such an old building is naturally very expensive – money that could be better spent on patient care.

“It also makes it challenging for us to offer same sex accommodation for patients – this won’t be a problem in the new area so we’re confident that patients will get a better all-round experience.”

The acute assessment hub will be located in the former therapies area of the hospital’s Queen’s Building next to the brand new state-of-the-art therapies building that opened earlier this year.

Julie Smith, sister on the existing surgical assessment unit, said:

“This is a very exciting time for our team, and we are really looking forward to working in a new clinical environment that’s appropriate for our patients, colleagues and the service that we deliver.

“The move will allow us to facilitate and enhance the outstanding care we give to the people of Somerset.

“We believe that with effective collaboration between our team and colleagues in our same day emergency care and emergency department, we will improve the outcomes and experiences for our patients who need surgery.”

David Snell, Director – Kier Strategic Health, said: “Starting work on the new acute assessment hub is an important milestone as it means we are one step closer to bringing new facilities to Musgrove Park Hospital. We understand the ambitions Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has, as part of its Musgrove 2030 plan and we are proud to be working collaboratively with staff, consultants and the estates team to deliver vital new health care infrastructure.

“We have extensive experience in delivering healthcare projects and we’ll utilise innovative building methods and work with local supply chain partners to build this new hub for the local community.”

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow said: “Since becoming the local MP I have worked hard to achieve more investment to help improve local health services and I am delighted that work is underway on the new acute assessment hub at Musgrove Park.

“This project is part of the Musgrove 2030 programme, which involves upgrading many buildings across the entire hospital site and I was pleased to work with stakeholders to help secure the necessary funding commitments from Government. The hub will further enhance the already outstanding care given to the people of Somerset by the hospital staff and particularly improve the outcomes and experiences for those who need surgery.”


Pictured (left to right) are: Julie Smith – SAU sister, Dolly McNally – healthcare assistant, Sarah Dowling – SAU deputy sister, Pauline Compton – SAU receptionist, Elliot Meredith – Kier.