WORK has begun at Bradford Royal Infirmary to create new negative pressure high dependency units in the A&E department.

The new units will be some of the first in the country, and come as the NHS enters its new normal as we learn to live with Covid-19.

The eight isolation rooms will be based on the ground floor of the hospital in the Accident and Emergency department, and will use vents to create a lower air pressure inside the unit than in the corridors, and will ensure that when the cubicle door is opened no air escapes, which lowers the risk of spreading Covid-19.

The lower air pressure means that when the doors open contaminated air doesn’t flow out of the room, and filtered clean air goes into the room.

Contaminated air is sucked out of the room by an exhaust system before being filtered and released out of the building.

Building work began at the hospital in mid-February, and work is expected to last until at least the end of the summer.

The new HDUs will cost £1.3 million and are part of a £9.15 million investment at BRI by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Improvement.

While work takes place, the department has been reconfigured to ensure people can continue to receive the care they need.

Dave Greenhorn, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at BRI, said: “I’m delighted that Bradford is going to be one of the first emergency departments in England to have a HDU with separate negative pressure rooms.

“This new suite will allow us to treat any critically ill patients, but especially those patients who require specialised ventilation and aerosol generating procedures.

“We can treat these patients right next door to an immunocompromised patient or an influenza patient without any risk of cross contamination.

“Bradford has a high incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis and this unit will be perfect for managing these patients.

“The sliding glass doors and centralised high spec monitoring system will give our staff the ability to identify and respond instantly to any changes in the patient’s condition and achieve the highest possible standards of patient and staff safety.

“The negative pressure suite also allows us to be future-proofed as much as possible.”

Simon Kirk, General Manager of BRI’s Urgent and Emergency Care Clinical Business Unit, added: “Negative pressure rooms are a common method of infection control and are used to isolate patients with contagious, airborne diseases such as measles, tuberculosis, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.

“The rooms aim to keep patients with infectious illnesses, or patients who are susceptible to infections from others, away from other patients and healthcare colleagues.

“The new unit will also allow the department to be more flexible with our bed base as we continue to care for COVID-19 patients in this era of a ‘new normal’.”

The new HDUs will be able to cater for multiple patients at a time, and the temperature and humidity in the rooms will be monitored carefully to keep patients comfortable during their stay.

Mark Holloway, Director of Estates and Facilities, said: “I’m delighted that our emergency department’s HDU is receiving this upgrade as we look to the future to ensure our patients have world-class facilities to receive cutting-edge care in this new COVID-19 era.

“One of our great strengths here in Bradford is that we, as a Trust, react quickly to new healthcare scenarios presented to us and can adapt our estate and our working practices to meet the changing needs and rising demand the NHS will face during the next decade and beyond.”