Plans for new Bristol Elective Centre receive green-light

An artists impression of what the elective centre building may look like.

Plans have been approved for a new £49.9 million Elective Centre at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, which will provide capacity for an additional 6,500 operations a year to be carried out.

The new state-of-the-art centre will benefit patients across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) and is planned to open in Spring 2025. The plans have received approval from the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England.

It will provide additional capacity for North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) to support each Trust’s elective (planned care) recovery plans. The two Bristol hospitals will work in harmony to provide high quality, safe and effective treatment and care.

The standalone facility will feature four surgical theatres and 40 beds for patients to recover, as well as 12 medirooms (where patients prepare for, and recover from, surgery) and x-ray facilities, and will mainly be used for orthopaedic procedures. The additional capacity will also enable more patients to be seen in existing theatres sooner for a range of other specialties.

The centre will bring together the skills and expertise of staff under one roof, reducing waiting times for some of the most common procedures such as hip and knee replacements.

As the centre will be separated from emergency services, surgical beds will be kept free for patients waiting for planned operations, reducing the risk of short-notice cancellations. 

Professor Tim Whittlestone, Chief Medical Officer at NBT, said: “We’re delighted that our Elective Centre plans have received approval from the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, and we look forward to work starting to create the centre, which we are aiming to open in Spring 2025.

“The centre will provide capacity for an additional 6,500 operations a year to be carried out, benefiting patients across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.”

Stuart Walker, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Chief Executive at UHBW, said: “We welcome the very positive news that the new Elective Centre has been given approval, meaning more people in our local area will get access to quicker, high-quality care.

“Our organisations are working together to develop plans to ensure there are mutual benefits for both Trust’s services, so that more people can be cared for as quickly as possible.

“The Elective Centre will support both Trusts to reduce waiting times for elective procedures and be a welcome addition to patients across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire from Spring 2025.”

There are 94 established elective surgical hubs across the NHS in England. In addition, 37 new hubs have been approved for development through the national Targeted Investment Fund (TIF) process, including the Elective Centre in Bristol.

The centre is just one of the ways the NHS in BNSSG is working to reduce waiting times for patients, with staff working hard to see people as quickly and safely as possible, based on clinical priority and need. Other initiatives have included additional clinics at weekends, the creation of a new ward to support the discharge of patients, and more than 30 ring-fenced beds for planned procedures. 

NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (ICB) Director of Performance and Delivery, Lisa Manson, said: “Tackling the planned care backlog that built up during the pandemic remains a high priority for our health and care system and we are working hard to reduce the number of people who experience longer waits for treatment. We are making good progress and the new elective care centre for our area will provide a significant boost to our plans, with the capacity to deliver thousands more operations each year.”

Mr Vinay Takwale, Medical Director (System Improvement & Professional Standards) for NHS England in the South West, said: “This is the latest step in our strategy to increase capacity in the South West, so we can treat more people, more quickly. With extra community diagnostic centres also on the way, we should see real gains over the coming years.”

Health Minister Will Quince said: “Surgical hubs are helping to speed up access to treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients across the country – backed by £1.5 billion in government funding. These four new theatres and 40 beds will deliver 6,500 extra operations a year across Bristol, Somerset and Gloucestershire, helping to keep pace with rising demand and ensure patients receive rapid access to the highest quality treatment.”