HOSPITAL chiefs are hoping a Marks & Spencer food store will be part of a £16.5m new development.
Four retail units are proposed as part of the revamped entrance being built at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, along with a new multi-storey car park offering 1,122 spaces.
Ian McManus, assistant director of clinical support and facilities management at Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, told councillors it was hoped the massive scheme would be ready by Christmas.
Mr McManus, who gave a presentation to members of Blackpool Council’s health committee, said Starbucks and WH Smith had already signed up for two of the units.
A pharmacy will go into another unit, while health chiefs are hoping M&S will take over the final unit.
The project, which was announced last August, is aimed at tackling congestion on the hospital site and providing better facilities for staff, patients and visitors.
Mr McManus said: “We have 300 to 350 of our staff who through no fault of their own have to scratch around the local community and park where they can.
“Our staff are not happy and neither are our neighbours.
“We have insufficient on-site parking but with this scheme we are trying to have an over-supply of parking rather than having to add on every time we have a new development on the hospital site.”
Construction firm Willmott Dixon has been awarded the contract and preparation work is already going ahead with demolition of outdated buildings.
Whinney Heys Road will be the main route into the hospital and will lead drivers, particularly those unfamiliar with the layout of the hospital, directly to the seven-storey car park.
The lower floors of the multi-storey will be allocated to patients and visitors who will be charged at the same rate as they are currently, while the upper levels will be for staff.
Health committee chairman Coun Allan Matthews said he was very impressed by the proposed improvements.
He said: “I think the new facilities will be excellent and having a light and airy entrance will make it a more pleasant experience for visitors, patients and staff.
“My only concern is that signs are clear to the new car park, because people coming from the south are used to accessing the site off East Park Drive rather than going all the way up to Whinney Heys Road.
“The hospital site is huge, it was suggested at the meeting a shuttle bus be introduced to transport patients who have walking difficulty between departments.
“I also think it might be a good idea if maps were available at the entrance to help people find their way around.”
The new entrance will link into the main hospital to be the primary access point for most patients, visitors and staff apart from those using accident and emergency and the maternity unit, which will use their existing entrances.