PATIENTS have hailed an extension to Witney Community Hospital as evidence of a long term commitment to healthcare in West Oxfordshire.

A new consulting room, waiting area, changing rooms and toilet facilities should be completed by the end of March, benefiting those visiting the minor injuries unit (MIU), X-ray and outpatients departments.

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said the extension will help speed up appointments, with the MIU seeing more than 1,000 patients each month on average.

The cost of the building work is unconfirmed, but Rosalind Pearce, executive director of independent watchdog Healthwatch Oxfordshire, believes it shows the trust is looking to the future.

The Oxford Times:

She said: “It will mean that patients waiting at the hospital will have a better experience, which, in turn, will make it a more attractive option when choosing where to be treated.

“We believe this also signals a long-term commitment from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust to providing this service to people in the West Oxfordshire area, which is very good news for patients.”

Witney mayor, Brenda Churchill, added: "If they're investing money, it shows they're not going to close the hospital."

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All patients including MIU, X-ray and outpatients currently use the main waiting area to the left of reception.

The extension was only approved by West Oxfordshire District Council in December, but it should provide a welcome boost for hospital staff.

The single-storey building will be attached to the X-ray department and includes a new 24-seat waiting area.

It means people waiting for X-rays and outpatient clinics will have a dedicated space away from the minor injuries waiting area, which has seating for 34 people.

The Oxford Times:

Sandra Allen, matron of the hospital, on Welch Way, revealed the X-ray department can see up to 50 people a day, including walk-in referrals from GPs and patients from its MIU and Emergency Multidisciplinary Unit (EMU).

She added: “We are delighted that we will soon be able to offer people a much more comfortable time while they wait to be seen by our staff."

The hospital provides rehabilitation and palliative care for people who no longer need an acute hospital but require greater support than currently provided at home.

Among its other services is a GP out-of-hours base which cared for 8,156 patients last year.

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It is the second boost to healthcare in Witney in two months, after Cogges GP Surgery was saved from closure in January.

The doctors in charge of the practice agreed a deal to continue providing services following five months of uncertainty for almost 8,000 patients.