Major work is underway to lay the foundations of a development which will double the number of operations which can be carried out at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said ground clearance work to pave the way for the new surgical hub has started.

This includes the removal of any contaminated ground under the site of the old 1960s Mowbray building which has been demolished to make way for the new state-of-the-art-facility for patients.

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The new surgical hub will see the hospital’s six ageing operating theatres replaced with six new main operating theatres, two minor operating theatres and a surgical admission and day hub.

The work means the Northallerton hospital can more than double the number of planned operations it carries out each year.

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Kevin Oxley, director of facilities and estates at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This next phase of clearance work will see the removal of any contaminated soil under the old Mowbray building which was built more than 60 years ago.

“It will see specialist contractors removing a layer of soil under the old building which will then be taken away for safe disposal in preparation for the foundations to be laid for the new surgical hub which will benefit patients for decades to come.”

The work is part of moves to increase the NHS's ability to support patients whose non-urgent care has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Friarage development is one of more than 50 new surgical hubs being created across the country. It is due to open next year.