HAREFIELD Hospital has applied for planning permission to build a temporary 18-bed ward to cope with increased demand.
The hospital in Hill End Road, one half of the Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust, says without the ward, day-to-day services will not be 'operationally sustainable'.
There has been an increased demand on healthcare at the hospital since the recent completion of the new MRI scanner facility and operating theatre, which opened in November.
A catheter laboratory will open later this year and new primary angioplasty, transplant and artificial heart services have allowed Harefield to become a 24/7 acute cardiac centre.
In its planning submission, the hospital describes the beds as 'urgently needed'.
It states that recent developments have placed 'unprecedented pressure on the existing bed pool at Harefield, which has averaged a 96-98 per cent occupancy rate through 2010/11 and into 2011/12'.
It adds: "This is not opera-tionally sustainable, and has led to high numbers of patients experiencing their planned treatment being cancelled and rescheduled to a later date, causing distress."
Temporary permission is sought for three years, by which time the trust hopes to have progressed with its £50million regeneration project, which has been delayed by up to 12 months and for which plans are not expected to be submitted until 2012 at the earliest.
The hospital's future is further complicated by the current legal challenge to cease children's heart surgery at its partner hospital, The Royal Brompton.
This would lead to a 10 per cent reduction in the trust's total income.
Harefield has eight wards, with 154 beds in all. If planning permission is granted for the 18-bed ward, the hospital would also seek to extend the time period for a 36-bed ward, currently with temporary permission first granted in 2006 and since renewed.
Hillingdon Council will review the application later this year.
In a statement, the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust said: "This latest planning application is part of continued plans for the redevelopment of Harefield Hospital and is part of our work to replace in-patient accommodation."
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