The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading could be relocated to a new site this decade, according to strategic plans.
The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust has been looking at several potential development options to help plan for the future of hospital services in Reading and the wider area in recent years.
Previously, six options were laid out for the future of the hospital in Craven Road, Reading, some of which involved making upgrades to the current site or it simply carrying on as present.
Now, it has been narrowed down to three options with the most dramatic being the complete relocation of the hospital to a new site.
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One place that is being considered is Green Park in Whitley, but the hospital could even be relocated outside of Reading Borough at the Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield.
The prospect of part or all of the hospital’s facilities being moved to Thames Valley Science Park is mentioned in the Wokingham Local Plan update, which lays out the future of development in Wokingham Borough until 2038.
Its relocation to the park would make it close by to the Rutherford Cancer Centre, and private healthcare businesses Biointeractions, Clasado and Dextra Laboratories.
Alternative options include completely rebuilding the hospital at its current site, or a partial redevelopment to create a new emergency care block, an elective centre for planned hospital care, a new women’s and children’s facility, and a medical school.
The three options are laid out below:
- Partial redevelopment of the current site, including new emergency care and elective treatment centre
- Wholesale redevelopment of the current site
- Complete relocation to a new site at either Green Park of Thames Valley Science Park
The options can be found on a dedicated website which you can access by clicking this link.
The Wokingham Local Plan update ‘revised growth strategy’ document implies some of the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s services could be moved to a new location.
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Reading Borough Council leader Jason Brock said he would prefer the hospital to remain in Reading, but supported the hospital trust in ‘exploring all possibilities’.
Cllr Brock (Labour, Southcote), said: “The Royal Berkshire Hospital presented their Strategic Outline Business Case at the last meeting of Reading’s Health and Wellbeing Board and outlined all of the options they need to consider as per requirements set by HM Treasury.
“Only one of the myriad possibilities involves the hospital’s relocation, and the cost of such an option makes it unlikely.
“The council supports the hospital exploring all possibilities at this stage and we certainly know that the hospital requires investment from Government to secure its future for the residents of Reading and beyond.
“The borough is clearly the most sensible location for the Royal Berks, although we do not currently endorse any particular option and reserve judgment until the process progresses.”
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The strategic planning for the the future of Royal Berkshire Hospital has been undertaken as its Trust is part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme.
As part of the programme, the Trust submitted a Strategic Outline Case (SOC) in December 2020, which has since been revised to the three options mentioned.
The Trust must now submit an Outline Business Case (OBE), which will explore the options and determine which one ‘makes the best clinical and economic sense’ for the public.
It is currently working with staff, patients, public and other stakeholders as part of the Building Berkshire Together initiative to ensure what is designed is fit for the future.
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Building Berkshire Together programme director Alison Foster, an employee of the Trust, said: “We have recently run two successful engagement events online and there will be more in the new year to ensure we speak to the public and as many patients, carers and staff as we can.
“We will use the opportunity to not only progress our services for the future but to also address health inequalities.
“We are very keen for anyone interested in the project to contact us and be involved as much or as little as they wish.”
People who are interested in the future of the hospital can join the ‘Building Berkshire Together network’ by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has requested a comment from Wokingham Borough Council.