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Casualty TV stars join Walsall UECC opening event

2023-06-09T17:18:44+01:00Friday 9 June 2023|

Casualty TV stars got the chance to meet real-life medics today when they attended the eagerly-awaited official opening of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s £40m Urgent and Emergency Care Centre.

Charles Venn and Neet Mohan, who play Jacob Masters and Dr Rash Masum respectively in the long-running BBC TV drama, provided the celebrity glamour while Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Chris Towe, cut the ribbon in a grand opening ceremony.

Guests included Dr Rabia Imtiaz, Medical Director System Improvement Professional Standards NHSE (Midlands), the town’s MPs Valerie Vaz and Eddie Hughes and Integrated Care Board (ICB) leaders.

Charles, 49, said: “The teams are so affable, professional and warm and it was wonderful to meet some of the patients – Edith and Donna – as well. 

“When you see healthcare in real life, you realise the importance of what you’re trying to portray in front of the camera and its gravitas.

“Coming to places of this magnitude brings it home and it really is an honour for us both to be able to tell these stories and given this responsibility. It’s been an amazing experience.”

Neet, 37, said: “We play fictional medics so to be here among real medical professionals doing amazing work has been a great privilege. It’s an amazing hospital. I know it’s been a while in the making, but it’s worth it and a wonderful building.”

Charles and Neet spent two hours greeting staff and patients and posing for selfies, signing autographs and giving out chocolates on a tour of the building.

Patients Edith Minifie, 87, from Wednesbury, and Donna Purchas, 52, from Pelsall, were in the Acute Medical Unit and were thrilled to meet the TV stars.

“It’s wonderful to meet you – it’s made my day,” said Edith.

Donna, a big Casualty fan, added: “I can’t believe I’ve met you both – it’s given me such a boost.”

Sir David Nicholson, Chair at Walsall Healthcare, said: “I remember when this hospital was in special measures and there was constant controversy over whether there would be a new Maternity Unit and a new Emergency Department.

“When I say that Walsall Healthcare is known nationally in the NHS for the performance of its Emergency Department (ED) after where it’s come from, it’s absolutely fantastic. I thank all the staff for everything you do.”

Professor David Loughton CBE, Group Chief Executive, said: “This is a great day which has been a long time in the making and is definitely overdue because the previous Emergency Department was not fit for purpose.

“It was a real challenge to move departments. It was on Thursday, 2 March and into the early hours of the following morning that the move took place and it was functioning straight away.

“This is a state-of-the-art facility that we didn’t have with the old facility, which despite its challenges, staff excelled in by consistently being the top in the West Midlands for ambulance turnarounds and in the top 10 in the country for the four-hour performance target.

“Last month we were the ninth-best performing in the country against specialist A&E hospitals despite having far less staff than them. The staff did a tremendous job in the old A&E department and you’re doing just as well in the new one.”

Ned Hobbs, Chief Operating Officer at Walsall Healthcare, said: “It’s been a real privilege to be part of this and I thank all the staff and our partners who have made it possible.”

The two-storey development – the most substantial investment Walsall Healthcare has seen – has significantly improved emergency care facilities and capacity and has provided almost 5,000 square metres of additional clinical space.

It includes an Urgent Treatment Centre, ED including Resus and Rapid Assessment and Treatment area, and Children’s ED, co-located Paediatric Assessment Unit, Acute Medical Unit and provision for Frailty and Community Integrated Assessment services.

It also includes re-configuration of the current ED footprint, to incorporate improved Ambulatory Emergency Care and Imaging services.

Various specialist facilities are located throughout, such as an isolation room for infectious patients, bariatric provision and digital x-ray rooms. All areas have been designed specifically to enhance clinical staff efficiency, improve quality of care, improve patient experience, and improve the working environment for staff.

The project was delivered by Tilbury Douglas just over two years after the first enabling works got underway in January 2021.

Guests also included Diane Wake, Chief Executive for The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Daren Fradgley, Chief Integration Officer, Managing Director and Deputy Chief Executive at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Hospitals Trust.

Mayoress Louisa Hughes, along with Labour Group Leader Aftab Nawaz and Deputy Khizar Hussain joined guests who enjoyed special #BuildingOurFuture cupcakes baked by The Brownie & Bake Company, Bloxwich, served by Trust volunteers.

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