THE new Forest Hospital at Cinderford is on track to be fully operational by Spring next year as planned.

But patients are being told to expect some disruption when the transfer of services and equipment from Lydney and The Dilke hospitals starts early in the New Year.

The most noticeable is likely to be x-rays with some patients having to go to Gloucester Royal or Tewkesbury Hospital for the scan when the machine at Lydney is transferred to Cinderford.

“It is our biggest area of focus in terms of outstanding actions,” said Angela Potter, who is leading the hospital development for the Gloucestershire Health and Care Trust.

Speaking to the Forest Health Forum in Bream on Tuesday evening, Ms Potter said: “That whole move and re-commissioning programme (for the x-ray machine) will take us 14 weeks.

“It does mean the only x-ray facility in the Forest for that time will be at The Dilke and that has some restrictions on the range of procedures it can operate.

“Therefore there could some scenarios where either planned appointments via your GP or patients who need minor injury x-rays may need to go to another hospital outside the Forest and the most likely would be Tewkesbury or Gloucester.”

While the Trust is working on the assumption that the x-ray from Lydney will be transferred, efforts are being made to get a new machine.

Ms Potter said there would be no “big bang” of services moving en-masse to the new hospital.

“It is just too big and complex a move.

“This programme takes us across a number of weeks, not just days in terms of being able to safely commission the building and move services into it.”

The first nine weeks after builders Spellar Metcalfe hand over the building will be used to carry out a deep clean and finish off infrastructure such as computer cabling.

The first major change will come six weeks after the handover with the closure of the inpatients ward at Lydney.

Patients from the Lydney ward will be transferred to The Dilke and shortly after all patients from there will be moved to the new hospital.

Ms Potter said all services are likely to experience some temporary changes including community dentistry, rapid response, midwifery, therapies, children and young people’s services, the complex leg wound service and outpatients.

She added: “We have a couple of days where we are not running those services in order to move them across.

“We should be able to manage with scheduling of patients so nobody is unnecessarily delayed

“I think the longest one would be dentistry and that is down to a matter of days rather than weeks.”

The last service to come on stream will be the new endoscopy unit and that is because of the complexity of setting it up.

It had been planned to move health visitors to the proposed new Lydney Health Centre in the old Co-op but that has been put on hold because of uncertainty about the project.

The health visitors will remain in Stonebury House next to the current Lydney Hospital.

That will cause the Trust a financial headache as Stonebury had been included in the assets to be disposed of.

The podiatry service will remain at the current Lydney Health Centre as will the integrated care team.

The physiotherapy team will move in when other services are relocated.

Ms Potter also gave an assurance that there would no period when there was not a Minor Injury and Illness Unit in the Forest.

She said: “There will be disruption, this has been a complex piece of commissioning.

“It’s not straightforward and our operations teams have worked hard to understand the best way in which we configure the move across.”