PATIENTS will be the “real winners” of plans to give Sidmouth Victoria Hospital a £1.3million revamp that will cap off a quarter-of-a-century of improvements.

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Proposals to create a new physiotherapy department, rehabilitation unit and gym area have been revealed.

Blueprints also feature the re-siting of the facility’s kitchen to enable the construction of a canopied hospital entrance with reception.

The demolition of the existing physiotherapy building will also allow for a larger parking area.

A planning application has been submitted to the district council and, subject to planning permission, it is hoped work could begin early next year – taking around 14 months to complete.

While there will be some disruption, it is intended the hospital will remain open throughout.

“This project sees the transition of Sidmouth from a cottage hospital into a vibrant, modern and professional hub of community health and social care,” said matron Emma Bagwell.

The project is being led by Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund with help from the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust.

“This is an exciting time for everyone involved in the project and the local community we serve – our patients will be the real winners,” added Emma.

“These new facilities will enhance the excellent service the hospital already provides, and the flexibility of space reflects the changing face of how we deliver healthcare.

“I cannot thank the comforts fund enough for their mammoth fundraising efforts over the years, and we look forward to continuing our association throughout this project and beyond.”

The proposed work is the fifth and final phase of a 23-year scheme by the comforts fund to upgrade the hospital that has already seen more than £3.5million spent to date.

“It will be such a big improvement,” fund chairman Graham Vincent said of latest proposals. “Back in 1989 we promised people we would provide them with a new hospital – but didn’t have a greenfield site so we had to construct something in the existing shell.

“We’ve been looked after very well by the community – everyone is passionate about the place.”

● More on the project in this Friday’s Sidmouth Herald.

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