A WATCHDOG claims an £8million development to boost bed numbers at the city’s hospital will not be complete by the end of the year.

Worcestershire Royal Hospital is building three high dependency units, which will have 81 extra beds, in the east section of its Aconbury building.

However, Peter Pinfield, chair of Healthwatch Worcestershire, is worried about construction delays, warning that the extra beds could mean the difference between a successful winter and a dangerous one.

He added: “Healthwatch is quite concerned whether we are going to be ready for the winter. At the board meeting last month we were told that bed capacity would not be ready for December. My mouth dropped. All the work that we have done behind the scenes to get this capital money brought forward only to find that the actual development won’t be in time.

“We are being told by professionals that the building can’t be kitted out in time. This is going to be a real challenge for Worcestershire.”

Mr Pinfield hoped the three wards would be ready by December at the latest, but it now looks like they will open in late January.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said it has to balance clearing ward areas for construction work to take place with keeping beds open.

A spokesman added that the hospital is increasing bed numbers in other areas of the Aconbury building.