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The Great Western Hospital 

GWH
New era: The Great Western

It was the end of an era in Swindon at 7.00am on the 3rd December 2002, when the Casualty Dept. at Princess Margaret Hospital shut its doors for the final time and all new patients were admitted to the Town’s brand-new hospital, The Great Western.

Situated at the Commonhead roundabout, just off Junction 15, M4, the new hospital has been designed to cope with the increased demands of modern healthcare and Swindon's rapidly expanding catchment area. In contrast to the confined and ageing PMH Okus site, the new hospital’s new location will also allow for easy extension as and when required.

Important improvements at the Great Western include:

 -  Inpatient areas having 4 bed bays and single rooms which are all en-suite (shower, wash hand basin and WC).
 - Each bed has piped oxygen and suction
 - Each inpatient bed has TV, radio and a telephone
 - A&E, Radiology, Pathology, Day Surgery - all significantly larger
 - There are 10 theatres, plus the theatre in obstetric delivery
 - An increase to over 1100 car parking places (pay and display)
 - A regular bus service (every 12 minutes) direct to the centre of  Swindon will commence once the hospital is operational

GWH opening
Every second counts: Hospital Trust chief
executive, Sonia Mills at the moment the GW opened
Alterations to the road layout, the placement of new traffic lights and a sweeping entrance road were the first signs that work had begun on a replacement for the Princess Margaret Hospital back in October, 1999. Now the building itself has risen over the skyline. Swindon's Great Western hospital will consist of a six storey building providing 55,900 square metres of floor space. It will be situated within a 32 acre site, with the main entrance branching off the A4259 road which links the Commonhead and Coate Water Roundabouts. The building will be L-shaped with a dramatic curved quadrant section forming its main entrance.

The site was chosen after considering at least eleven alternatives, including redevelopment of the existing PMH site, St Margaret's Hospital at Stratton and the former Princess Alexandra Hospital site at Burderop.

The decision to build at Commonhead has met with some opposition from environmentalists who expressed concern that yet another greenfield site on the outskirts of the town was to be built upon. But those in favour of the new site claim that it best meets the criteria set for the project.
PMH
PMH: serving Swindon since 1959
Whatever the pros and cons of the new site, there is little doubt that PMH is no longer a suitable main hospital for a rapidly expanding town like Swindon.

HRH Princess Margaret laid the foundation stone of the hospital which was to bear her name in May 1957, and the first phase - the current Outpatients Department - came into use in October 1959. The main block was completed in April 1966, and the Casualty and Orthopaedic areas were opened in 1974.

Since PMH was first planned the population within its catchment area has more than doubled from 170,000 to 340,000. And the number of in-patients being treated there has risen to more than 44,000 per annum.

As the mid 90's approached PMH had a severe maintenance backlog and it was estimated that it would cost £48 million just to bring it up to current standards. And even then, there was general agreement that the layouts of internal departments could not be improved to reflect the needs of modern healthcare. There are also increasing concerns about access to the site.

In contrast, the new hospital will be situated on an easily-accessible site and the building will allow for easy extension as and when required.

Developers Tarmac claim to have set in place procedures to minimise the effect on the environment during the building phase and the planners have outlined a far-reaching strategy which they say will ensure that the working hospital will be efficient and eco-friendly.

The buildings will be situated at the centre of the site with car parking, extensive landscaping and other ancillary buildings on the periphery.

The new hospital continues a rich heritage of pioneering healthcare in Swindon starting with the GWR Medical Fund Society in 1847 - which many regard as "...the birthplace of the NHS". You can follow this trail via the link below.
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