Plans have been unveiled to replace Croydon’s ‘crumbling’ A&E with a department fit for the 21st century at a cost of £17.5m.

The proposal has been drawn up after Croydon University Hospital’s accident and emergency department received scathing criticism from Care Quality Commission inspectors.

During their inspections last year they found it was crowded, badly designed and staff vacancies were high.

The observation ward was not suitable for patients as it was very cramped and they said the layout made it unsuitable to observe people properly.

And the place was in need of decoration with the plaster crumbling in places and chipped paintwork.

Hospital bosses say the emergency department sees and treats about 120,000 people in buildings which were designed in the 1980s to cope with about 70,000 patients.

The plan for redevelopment will allow the hospital to cope better with the borough’s growing population.

However, when asked, the hospital was unable to provide details of how many patients a day the new A&E could cope with.

The clinical lead in emergency medicine for Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, Dr Kathryn Channing, said: "A refurbished emergency department will mean that the trust will continue to be able to deliver high quality emergency care to the local community more quickly and more efficiently, and patients will have a better experience of care."

Croydon Council’s health and wellbeing board are discussing the outline business case for the redevelopment at a meeting today.

If the Department for Health approves the plan and grants funding, building work could start in the autumn and is expected to take just over a year.

While the construction is taking place most of the department will be moved into existing buildings and some temporary ones around the site.

But the resuscitation suite will remain where it is and other facilities will be put in place around it and it has specialist equipment built into it.

The application to expand the A&E is not dependent on the ongoing review into accident and emergency departments in SW London.