Yesterday the good news was confirmed by the Prime Minister that a new £17m, c4000 square metre Health and Well Being Hub will be funded on the former St George's Hospital site. This follows months of intensive campaigning in Westminster by me and my team to get Ministers to think again after an earlier bid for capital funding was rejected.
Since that rejection, we had been exploring with different parts of the NHS and council other ways of funding the project that might have involved the council buying the site from NHS Property and reducing the size of the scheme. With this new injection of capital, we can go ahead with the most ambitious scheme, transforming the local picture of health, social and mental care long into the future.
This will be a joint venture by Barking, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups and the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT)
The St George's scheme was unanimously agreed by local health providers as their highest priority because it delivers so many benefits across the entire region, transforming the delivery of primary care in the south of Havering but also allowing Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) to reconfigure acute care.
- The new St Georges will allow the health system to deliver health and primary care at scale as the population in the locality expands by nearly 15,000 patients in the next 10 years (18%). This increase together with demographic changes of an ageing population means the locality is redefining its model of care so that the dependency on acute services including reducing the rate of A&E attendances together with quicker discharges can be achieved.
- The community and mental health provider (North East London Foundation Trust – NELFT) intend to place their newly formed South Havering Team within the development which will provide a full range of community care services. This will free up circa 45% of the South Hornchurch Health Centre which then provides the opportunity for GPs in inadequate accommodation close by South Hornchurch to move into the vacated space, enabling delivery of primary care at scale for the area to better accommodate existing patients and cater for the significant population increase projected for the area.
- The development itself will provide a primary care service of circa 30,000 patients facilitating the movement of local GPs in sub-standard, unsuitable accommodation in the area immediately surrounding the St George’s site.
- The St George’s Hub scheme will address a number of capacity and sustainability issues within the local accountable care system. The main issue is to address the sustainability of the acute provider BHRUT. In order to achieve this a reconfiguration of the acute services is required and the St George’s scheme is a critical precursor to this. The reconfiguration project will improve the quality of care for geriatric patients, embedding it alongside other care providers, improving outcomes and reducing the length of stay. It will also improve the capacity and amenity of Queen’s Hospital ED in order to improve flow and address workforce issues associated with split-site working. The project will significantly improve critical care provision to support BHRUT’s strategic vision.
- Currently community renal services, provided by Barts Health NHS Trust, are provided within Queens Hospital, this is a 20 station unit and will require about a 1000 square metre demise within the new development. It is inappropriate for this service to be provided within an acute setting and relocating it frees up a significant amount of space in Queens Hospital and is critical in enabling BHRUT to proceed with the acute services reconfiguration.
- The reconfiguration would mean the retention of all current activity within BHRUT, as opposed to the substantial shift of activity to Newham University Hospital and Whipps Cross Hospital that was proposed in the earlier Health for North East London acute plan. This will significantly reduce the need for investment at those sites to cope with the outflows of activity estimated at £68m at Whipps Cross alone.