Page last updated at 21:56 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

City hospital regeneration agreed

Cardiff Royal Infirmary
The hospital was built in 1884 on land donated by the Marquess of Bute

Work on refurbishing facilities at a hospital could begin in the spring, Health Minister Edwina Hart has said.

The future of Cardiff Royal Infirmary (CRI) in the east of the capital has been uncertain since it closed as a district general hospital a decade ago.

But now Mrs Hart says she wants to develop health care facilities at the site including the possibility of in-patient services.

Local Lib Dem AM Jenny Randerson said it was a "great day".

Mrs Hart was responding to the recommendations of a review she commissioned last year to look at the provision of health services in the south and east of Cardiff.

Dr Stephen Hunter's report concluded the CRI "can and should be developed as a beacon local hospital for the people of south and east Cardiff and arguably beyond".

The CRI, which was built in 1884 and is listed as having Grade II status, closed as a district general hospital in 1999.

After ten years, it is a huge relief for patients and residents in and around Cardiff that there will finally be action on the CRI site
Jenny Randerson AM

Campaigners battled against plans to close the remaining facilities in 2002. Those proposals were abandoned but the future of the site remained uncertain.

The current site houses out-patient facilities including physiotherapy and genito-urinary medicine but according to the report, existing plans to develop services do not go far enough.

The report recommends a "significantly bolder" approach. It calls for the establishment of a well-being centre, an unscheduled care centre and an occupational health facility on the site.

It also calls for plans to transfer "a substantial proportion of medical outpatient activity to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary site" including respiratory medicine, diabetes and endocrinology and community paediatrics.

Development of the CRI could ease congestion at the University Hospital of Wales and improve access and waiting times the report says.

Responding to the report, Mrs Hart said: "I have approved plans for the acquisition of the full site at Cardiff Royal Infirmary which will allow the trust and the LHB (local health board) to take forward the recommendations of the review undertaken by Dr Stephen Hunter which specifically addressed the needs of the people of the south and east of the capital city.

"Dr Hunter recommends a phased development of services which will include primary care, unscheduled care, community mental health, substance misuse, outpatients and diagnostics.

"Further work will be required by the trust and LHB on exploring opportunities for in-patients within the resources available. It is hoped that work on preparing the site could start this spring."

Liberal Democrat AM for Cardiff Central Jenny Randerson said, "After ten years, it is a huge relief for patients and residents in and around Cardiff that there will finally be action on the CRI site.

"I pressed the minister over many months on this issue and I am delighted that she has responded so positively to the concerns of [myself] and the people of Cardiff".

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