A multi-million-pound wing which aims to help patients leave hospital quicker has taken a major step forward after being given the green light by planners. 

Plans for the new Willow Therapy Unit at Norwich Community Hospital, a £19.2m new facility, were lodged with Norwich City Council in December.

The new facility will create 48 new beds at the site in Bowthorpe Road and will be geared at providing people with the therapy and rehabilitative care they need to return home after hospital treatment.

The increased availability of these beds will mean shorter stays for patients in acute hospitals - alleviating pressure on wards, emergency departments and ambulances.

Funding for the two-ward scheme was secured last year, months before the planning application was submitted.

But now, the application has officially been approved, with City Hall planning officers using delegated powers to give the go-ahead.

Speaking previously, Matthew Winn, chief executive of the Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust said the development was an "important project for the Norfolk and Waveney health and care system".

Eastern Daily Press: Matthew Winn, interim chief executive of NCH&C

He said; "Therapy-led care provided at the Willow Therapy Unit will help bridge the gap between hospital and home and allow local residents to seamlessly move from hospital back into their communities."

The project, which is due to be completed next month, is being constructed using a cutting-edge construction method meaning the majority of the work will be carried out off-site.

It is being built from modular buildings called 'UltraPODs' which are being assembled in a factory in Cramlington, near Newcastle upon Tyne, more than 250 miles away.

Once completed, the new wing will them be carried the 267 from Tyneside to Norfolk and installed at the Norwich site.

This means disruption to the site itself will be kept to a minimum and construction will take two-thirds of the time it would have working around an operating hospital.