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The foundations are being laid for a new £30m operating theatres and improved healthcare facilities scheme at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is investing £30 million to build new state of the art operating theatres on the Darlington site alongside improving other facilities including a new mortuary and bereavement centre.

The Trust unveiled the plans last year and has been carrying out enabling works ready to start the physical build of the new development which will secure high quality services and facilities for patients now and in the future.

Mr Jeremy Cundall, Clinical Director for Surgery said: "This is an exciting development which demonstrates the Trust's commitment to the delivery of high quality care to patients. We are building six new state of the art operating theatres, with improved technology to support efficient ways of working, not just now but for the future.

"Patients will benefit from purpose built, modern facilities which will support increased capacity, an improved patient experience and a reduction in patient waiting times."

To create a high quality environment for surgery at Darlington and to enable new advancements in treatments and more procedures to be undertaken on site, the Trust plans to reconfigure the existing operating theatres and build six new state of the art theatres.

Alison McCree, Director of Estates and Facilities said: "This is a significant project and we have been working with our considerate contractors to minimize disruption to services and patient care during the first stage which include the demolition and will now continue to do so as the building phase begins.

"The new theatres are being built next to the current ones and then will be connected once the extension is complete.  As part of this project, we'll also be upgrading the existing theatres."

Keith Shivers, Regional Director for Integrated Health projects said: "We were delighted to have been appointed by County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust as its delivery partner through the P21+ Framework, and it is gratifying that, after the design process, where we worked closely with the Trust's Estates and Clinical team, a meaningful start on site can be achieved.

"We are now moving forward with the construction works and are working towards completing this significant development, which will undoubtedly enhance the hospitals services, by spring 2018."

The scheme also includes a new mortuary facility, bereavement centre and multi faith chapel on site.

Lead chaplain Kevin Tromans said: "We look forward to welcoming people of all faiths to the chapel which will offer a place of quiet, reflection, prayer and worship."

Watch our short videos of demolition work and the foundations being laid on YouTube:

'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough - could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'

Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community Hospital