CONSTRUCTION of a £70 million hospital will be completed in August –  less than two years after work began.

Miriam Anderson, project manager at the new East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington, said she expected the building to be “handed over” on August 31, with staff moving in over the following weeks.

The new hospital already has its outpatients department in operation, where it has seen an increase in the number of people being treated compared to its predecessor Roodlands Hospital.

Once the new hospital is completed, the remaining staff working at Roodlands Hospital, which is on the same site as the new facility, will be moved in, followed by those at nearby Herdmanflat Hospital, also in Haddington.

The new purpose-built hospital has been designed to bring the two older facilities together, as well as expanding services.

Roodlands Hospital will then be demolished and final works on expanding car parking and gardens across the site will be carried out, with all external work due to be finished by January 2020.

Mrs Anderson said that, while the transition into the new facility presented “challenges”, she was confident it would go well.

The community hospital is bringing new services to the town and wider community, including adult psychiatry, plastic surgery (hands), ante-natal and dietetics.

Among services which it says will be “repatriated” to East Lothian is gynaecology, while there are plans to bring children’s services to the new hospital in future.

Mrs Anderson said that staff had b taken tours of the new hospital in preparation for the move in September. She said: “Change is difficult. Although we have been talking about it for a long time it is still difficult; we are working with staff to make sure they are talking to carers and patients.”

The outpatient service opened on the new hospital in March last year and has seen a growth in the number of patients treated. Mrs Anderson said about 3,000 people were now being seen each month – previously an average of about 24,000 patients were catered for.

Roodlands Hospital has provided general medical and geriatric rehabilitation services to patients in East Lothian since the 1940s and was previously established as an infectious diseases facility at the start of the 20th century. Herdmanflat Hospital, which is situated less than a mile away from the new site, provides psychiatric service and started life as East Lothian County Asylum in 1866.

The new hospital, like Roodlands, won’t have an Accident & Emergency Department.