A big extension of the Royal Berkshire Hospital accident and emergency (A&E) department has been approved.

Having approved a smaller scheme just four months ago, Reading Borough Council (RBC) has now given permission for a more expansive scheme.

The hospital’s trust says there is an identified need to reconfigure and extend A&E department at the hospital and the first proposal did not go far enough.

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Plans to extend the waiting area were approved in August, but the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust (RBNFT) says the plans are no longer suitable.

Part of the work has already begun and the full works now have permission to be completed.

The previous plans were to double the size of the lobby to create two segregated waiting areas for adults and children but the trust now wants to add an enlarged new staff lounge , along with a point of care testing space.

The trust says the current A&E department is undersized to meet the needs of the patients and staff and the suggested improvements are “crucial” to provide more capacity, improve flow, reduce clutter, and comply with Covid-19 social distancing.

Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: Existing A+E designPICTURED: Existing A+E design Reading Chronicle: PICTURED: Planned A+E designPICTURED: Planned A+E design

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The previous approved plans were to extend the lobby by 20.4m².

The newly-approved plans will see a 88.2m² extension to allow for the point of care testing area and staff lounge.

The current lobby area is 18.9m², while the new lobby/testing/staff lounge area would be 107.1m².

Approving the plans, RBC case officer David Brett said: “The proposed development has been assessed and the proposed works are considered to be in accordance with the relevant policies and planning permission can be granted.”