ALL planned surgery will now be carried out in Runcorn unless patients have underlying health problems which may need intensive care, said a Halton and Warrington hospital health chief.

Around 226 operations already take place at Halton Hospital every week, and this is expected to reach 12,000 by the end of the year.

Two new urgent care centres at Halton Hospital and Widnes Walk-in Centre - set to open in September - will see more people than ever before treated on their own doorstep.

Speaking exclusively to The World, Mel Pickup, chief executive of of Halton and Warrington NHS Foundation Trust, said:”Every elective operation should be done at Halton irrespective of where patients live, unless they have other illnesses or problems which may require intensive care back up.

“We are going to take more general surgery, urology, and gynaecology. Orthopaedic surgery is already carried out at the treatment centre.

“We want to make good use of Runcorn’s facilities.

“Halton has always enjoyed a very good reputation in terms of patient experience and feedback.”

She said there will be far less likelihood of operations being cancelled by emergencies which will be handled in Warrington.

Casualties with hand or wrist injuries, sent home until swellings go down, can now have surgery at Halton.

Halton MP Derek Twigg: “This is really good news and further strengthens the future of the Halton hospital site.

“I also welcome the news that a MRI scanner is up and running at the treatment centre. These developments will mean fewer patients will have to go to Warrington.”

New diagnostic services will be available in the autumn to treat elderly patients with heart and respiratory conditions.

Ms Pickup added: “We will be gearing up Halton to become a much more robust facilitiy for the treatment of more complicated patients.

“We, as an acute hospital, have a lot to offer in providing community services.”