Johnny’s latest press coverage

Derriford critical incident demonstrates the need for new hospital build

February 15, 20240

There has been a lot of noise lately about Derriford Hospital, MP Johnny Mercer writes. Everyone knows that our hospital has been stretched to its limit in what is a difficult time of year for the NHS. Like many, I was deeply concerned by news that the Emergency Department was in a critical state until Tuesday, 30 January.


The Friday prior, I met with the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) to be briefed on the challenges currently facing Derriford Hospital. I have regular meetings with the Chief Executive Ann James to ensure that I am plugged into all the issues facing Derriford.


I was informed that the Emergency Department usually has 250 people – at that time there were 350. These exceptional circumstances and ongoing capacity issues explain the critical incident.


We should not find ourselves in a situation where health workers are concerned whether they will be able to provide priority services. However, sniping from the sidelines and shouting down those who are seeking to put things right is not helpful for health workers or patients.


My support for the staff at Derriford has always been total. I thank them for their huge efforts during this critical period and urge all interested parties to not use Derriford as a political football. My entire focus is on finding a lasting solution to a problem that has hung over our city for many years.


The capacity challenges at Derriford remain the same – hence the importance of the new hospital build which I have been an outspoken champion for. The Phase 1 business plan was approved last May. It will double the size of the current Emergency Department and include world-class facilities.


This will be the largest scale of work to be carried out since Derriford was built in 1981, amounting to the largest hospital building programme in a generation. I am chasing an update on the spades in the ground on this £180m development I secured as part of the rebuild of the entire site.


Delivering on this pledge is the single biggest thing Plymouth MPs can do to reduce pressure on our hospital. This, alongside the new £25m community diagnostic centre which I rescued and other NHS builds across Plymouth, will be transformative for our city. I consider it my number one objective for Plymouth.


In the meantime, I am working closely with UHP, the Department for Health and other relevant stakeholders to reduce pressure on our hospital this winter. Where possible, the team at Derriford are working hard to offset pressure by moving patients away from the Emergency Department to the most appropriate area.


12 beds have been opened at Mount Gould Discharge Assessment Unit; 24 beds at the Batham Orthopaedic Ward; 500 patients per week are being seen at Chestnut Urology Investigation Unit; and 50 patients in Virtual Wards.


I sincerely thank everyone who only attended the Emergency Department for serious or life-threatening conditions and used other services, such as NHS 111, for urgent care during the critical incident.


Working closely with the team at Derriford, I am wholly confident that they will do everything they can to help resolve any issues you might have faced. If I can be of help, please get in touch via or 01752 876979. Surgeries can also be booked with me through these channels.


Furthermore, if you would like to be notified about what I am doing here in Plymouth, including when I next write an op-ed for the Herald, please sign up to my mailing list here.

Luke Jones

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