BARNSLEY Hospital’s theatre department is set to undergo an expansion after bosses admitted it was ‘stretched to capacity’, a report has revealed.

Plans to add another unit to the Gawber Road site’s department was originally submitted in October, before being given the green light by Barnsley Council’s planning board earlier this month.

There are currently eight operating theatres - the facility where surgical operations are carried out in an aseptic environment - at the hospital.

They are operated by approximately 100 members of staff in the main theatres and 25 staff in the day surgery unit.

A report states: “The existing operating theatre department at Barnsley Hospital occupies an area on level one of the main hospital building.

“The department is well situated close to the emergency department and adjacent to the imaging department on the main entrance level of the site.

“The department has an admissions unit which has been developed in recent years however this is located away from the main theatre department on a different level of the hospital which causes operational issues.

“There are currently eight theatres in the department which due to the number of operations undertaken each year is stretched to capacity.”

It’s hoped the repurposed unit will help drive down waiting lists at the hospital.

The latest figures available, which cover October, show that a total of 22,024 patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment - up from 21,779 in September.

Of those, 251 - one per cent - had been waiting for longer than a year.

Separate figures from NHS England show 3,258 patients were waiting for one of ten standard tests - such as an MRI scan, non-obstetric ultrasound or gastroscopy at this time.

Of them, 80 - the equivalent of two per cent - had been waiting for at least six weeks.

The report adds that development opportunities in and around the theatre department are limited due to the nature of the site.

But the newly-approved plans have found a way around the issue.

“To expand the department within the footprint of the existing building would require relocating another clinical department elsewhere on site,” the report added.

“An area has been identified for an extension to the building which has direct access to the theatre department.

“As part of the extension works it is possible to create a new operating theatre adjacent to the existing theatres, benefiting from direct access to clean and dirty corridors.

“This will increase capacity of the department.

“The location of staff facilities at first floor of the extension will offer a significant improvement to staff wellbeing through the provision of larger facilities which benefit from natural light and an external seating area.”

A decision notice issued by the council’s planning board states that work must now be started before the expiration date in three years.