A MULTI-MILLION-POUND temporary hospital ward intended to help cut delays has still not opened – months after it was supposed to.

The new 30-bed short stay unit at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester was expected to open in February but has yet to open because of issues with the water supply.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was given £8 million from the government to build the unit at the city hospital with work starting at the beginning of the year.

Hospital bosses said the new unit would free up space in the hospital’s A&E department, help cut ever-increasing handover delays and reduce pressure on exhausted staff.

Paul Brennan, deputy chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said the new unit should open later this month.

“The transfer of services to the new unit on the first floor of the oncology building which was due to open in April has been delayed by issues with the water supply,” he said.

“However those issues have now been resolved and final preparations have begun to move into the new unit this month.

“Work also continues on our new urgent and emergency care development in the Aconbury East building which will be fully operational in 2023.”

In May, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) director Mark Docherty issued the startling warning that the crisis-hit service will ‘sink like the Titanic’ in August because of lengthy and ever-increasing delays.

A report on handover delays, which will be discussed by Worcestershire County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee on July 8, revealed the new unit, which was an important part of the trust’s plan to cut handover delays between paramedics and the hospital, was still not open.

“The volume of delays is showing little improvement,” the report said.

“One key factor behind this is the delayed opening of the 29-bedded new medical admissions unit (MAU) which is due to concerns regarding the water supply.

“The new MAU was recognised regionally as being a key requirement for the Worcestershire site to operate more efficiently and being a key enabler in preventing delays.

“A trajectory on reducing delays will be produced following the opening of the new MAU.”