THERE were celebrations this week as staff and patients marked Rowley Regis Hospital's 20th birthday.

The board of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust visited the hospital to congratulate the staff and present a giant cake in recognition of the milestone.

Trust chairman Richard Samuda said: “Our stated aim is to become renowned as the best integrated care organisation in the NHS. "Rowley Regis Hospital is pivotal to realising that aim as we look to expand community healthcare and bring treatment closer to home for the 500,000 people we serve in the area."

He added: "We acknowledge the tremendous contribution made by all the staff to the health and welfare of the Rowley Regis population.”

The hospital was opened in 1994 by the Duchess of Kent and in 2002 it joined with City Hospital, Birmingham and Sandwell Hospital, West Bromwich to be run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

The hospital provides rehabilitation and ready-to-go care for patients awaiting discharge and has extended its range of services to include outpatient clinics across a dozen specialisms.

Patients visit the X-ray, ultrasound and blood tests and to receive support with orthopaedic and foot health and musculo-skeletal conditions.

In January the hospital opened a Primary Care Assessment and Treatment Centre which brought day hospital staff and GPs together to provide an assessment, diagnostic and treatment service.

Sarah Whitcombe, a senior sister at Rowley Regis Community Hospital, has been there from the start.

She said: “We are very lucky to have this facility in such a lovely environment. Over the last 20 years, I have seen our beautiful gardens mature and become filled with wildlife.

"Several of us have been here since the beginning and are repeatedly told by patients that our hospital is a real contrast to acute settings, offering a change of pace and a close knit familiarity among staff and patients."

She added: "Our focus has changed over time and we are now dedicated to returning healthy patients to their homes where they feel happiest as quickly as possible and offering easy access to a range of other services for local people.

"Long may it continue."