A £3.8 million state-of-the-art endoscopy unit is now open at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
Thousands of local patients are set to benefit from the most modern unit in the country, boasting the latest high-tech equipment.
Around 6,500 procedures a year will be carried out at the new unit, which will provide care to patients who need an internal examination using an endoscope.
Endoscopy uses fibre-optics and video technology and can examine the colon, stomach, urethra and bladder and lungs, among other body parts.
A doctor who fought for the first unit at HRI in 1985 returned to officially open the new unit.
Bob Macdonald was the director of surgery when HRI’s first unit opened and was among the first consultants to practice endoscopy under sedation.
As he cut the ribbon, the retired consultant surgeon said: “The new unit shows what can be achieved by a visionary workforce committed to improving patient care.
“Back in the 1980s there was a single theatre with two sessions a week being done by general surgeons under general anaesthetic.
“Even in 1985 it wasn’t quite acceptable and by 1993 the current unit opened.
“The Trust is very good at not standing still – it is the management who have encouraged the consultants to become involved and units like this are the consequences of that.
“The clinicians had a vision and having a management team who will help fulfil their vision has got us here.”
The £3.8m unit project was completed with a massive feat of engineering – building supplies were lifted over the top of a tall ward block by a specially-erected crane and lowered down.
Inside the unit, patients can relax in a new waiting area before their examination.
There are four individual consulting and preparation rooms, three endoscopy rooms, a two-phase recovery area and a new seminar room for trainees.
The unit also boasts a £500,000 high-tech washing machine to ensure the Trust is compliant with all the latest decontamination regulations.
Consultant gastro-enterologist Rob Atkinson said the major changes were aimed at protecting privacy and dignity, with separate areas for men and women.
A special camera and sound system in the rooms will enable a consultant to be filmed during procedures, helping junior doctors learn without being in the room.
He said: “We’re expanding from two to three theatres.
“The demand means we run a weekend surgery, which puts an extra demand on the nursing staff.
“The expansion to three rooms means we can swallow the capacity, end the weekend surgery and take on extra if needs be.
“This new unit will help us continue to provide the highest level of care and to provide the community with access to some of the most up-to-date endoscopic techniques currently available.”