WORK to extend the accident and emergency department at Whiston Hospital has started.

Building works to extend the busiest A&E department in the region began today.

The department currently sees and treats more than 111,000 patients a year, an increase of more than 30 per cent since the new hospital opened in 2010.

In order to address the increasing demand, the trust is extending outwards from the existing A&E entrance to increase the current waiting area and redesign the interior to provide further clinical space.

Patients should not experience any major disruption during the building work and there will be no changes to parking or drop-off facilities at the hospital.

The only change to begin with is that a temporary entrance has opened for patients to enter the department just a few feet away from the current entrance.

This can still be accessed from Dragon Lane and Stoney Lane and is clearly sign-posted.

Rob Cooper, director of operations, said: “The expansion of A&E is just one of a number of projects we are undertaking to address the increasing demands on our services.

"Unprecedented numbers of patients are attending our hospital and we need to ensure we provide the best facilities as well as the highest standards of care.”