The New NHS Hospital With A Separate Room For Every Patient

Every patient will have their own room and bathroom at a new NHS hospital in a drive to stop the spread of superbugs.

Traditional wards have been scrapped under the single-room design, which planners say will reduce cases of MRSA and Clostridium difficile and lead to speedier recoveries.

Designers believe it is the start of a revolution in hospital layouts. Single-room hospitals are common in the US.

Their introduction to Britain signals a shift in thinking by the NHS, which treats most hospital patients in four or six-bed bays.

The new hospital will replace the fivestorey Pembury Hospital near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, which will be demolished within the next year and rebuilt with 512 rooms at a cost of £300million. Hospital managers say keeping each patient confined to their own room and bathroom will provide a physical barrier to the spread of infection.

Figures last week revealed that cases of C.diff have soared to record levels.

In the past year, almost 56,000 vulnerable and elderly patients have caught C.diff – a potentially lethal stomach bug.

Between January and March alone, 15,592 people were infected with the bacterium – a 22 per cent rise on the previous three months, the Health Protection Agency said.

John Cooper, lead architect on the new hospital project, said: “The most important thing is that it is the first major NHS hospital where you won’t have to share a bedroom.

“This is so important for reducing infeclocaltions which have become such a major issue.”

Individual rooms will also give patients greater privacy and a reduction in noise which will enable better sleep, helping to boost recovery times.

Planned treatment and emergency procedures will also be separated under the design, to further reduce infection risk.

The design also makes use of ancient woodland to create a “therapeutic landscape” stretching up to the building.

The Equion Consortium will be responsible for developing the hospital, which will replace both the existing Pembury and Kent and Sussex hospitals and is expected to open by 2011.

Darren Yates, spokesman for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, said the scheme will set a new benchmark for hospital design.

He said: “There are many benefits of having single rooms, around patient privacy and dignity.

“Single rooms play a major role in helping reduce hospital-acquired infections, but good hand hygiene and cleaning remains one of the most effective measures.”

Last month a health watchdog revealed that one in four hospitals is so unhygienic it is putting patients’ lives at risk.

The Healthcare Commission report said 99 of 394 English NHS trusts are breaching a hygiene code brought in to combat an increase in hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA.

There were 6,378 cases of MRSA infections reported in Britain between April 2006 and March 2007, compared with 7,096 for the previous year, according to the HPA.