Newham's primary care and community services set to be transformed under pioneering project

21 July 2017 in Health
A multi-million pound project to make Newham the first place in the country to set up a partnership to own and build integrated health and care facilities took a step closer last night (Thursday 20 July).
Newham Council has agreed in principle to set up a joint venture with local health partners, and to work in partnership with NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) and others to create state-of-the-art facilities combining traditional GP surgeries with advanced medical, community, social care and mental health support.

Under the project, new facilities will be developed across the borough with some health and wellbeing services moving from Newham University Hospital into the community to ease the pressure on the hospital and avoid people having to travel between multiple sites.

This pioneering project will support the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals in the borough by creating around 180 new affordable homes for rent specifically for health and social care workers as part of the new developments.

Last night, Newham Council’s cabinet agreed to the setting up of an arms-length organisation to manage the project on behalf of the council and health partners when the plans have been finalised.

Councillors also agreed in principle to support the new body with £2m start-up funding subject to equal match funding, and the council is working with health partners to identify ways to match this investment to enable the partnership to begin to buy sites, develop plans and secure grant funding.

The council is also working towards providing the joint venture with a loan facility to help with the purchasing of sites and development of new facilities to serve all communities across the borough.

With the borough’s population estimated to rise to around 370,000 by 2021 – an increase of around 40,000 from its current level – the project is seeking to ensure the services are able to meet the demands and challenges of the future.

Newham has a disproportionately large number of health premises which do not have the modern facilities that local residents deserve. Whilst there have been some improvements and new developments in recent years, there are still more than 50 primary care sites across the borough, and as part of the project a number of these could be purchased by the new arms-length company.

Under the initiative some of these sites would be developed into state of the art centres where people can access a range of primary and community care services. As well as GPs, a number of council services including social workers would be located in the centres alongside community health services.

Nationally, around £900m has been set aside by the NHS to improve and build new health facilities, across the country over five years providing on average only £5m for an area such as Newham. However, in Newham developing these centres will cost at least £100m.

The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said: “If we are to meet the challenges of the future we must act now. “We are looking to develop an innovative approach which will ensure we meet the future demand on our health and care services and provide the best possible support for our local communities.

“We are also looking to attract high quality staff to work in the top class facilities we will create. However, the lack of affordable accommodation can be a barrier to attracting and retaining these people. This is why as part of our pioneering vision we are seeking to build more affordable homes in the borough specifically for health and social care workers.

“This agreement is the starting point, but once again this is an example of Newham leading the way with our partners in health, to find solutions for the issues our communities and services are facing.”

Councillor Clive Furness, mayoral advisor for adults and health, “This project is designed to make sure our residents can access modern facilities combining GP, community health, social care and mental health support under one roof. This will mean people can access health and wellbeing services in one place rather than having to travel to across the borough.”

Dr Prakash Chandra, local GP and chair of NHS Newham CCG, said: “This is an innovative project to help us deliver a real change in the quality of our estates that will include developing healthcare hubs that offer higher quality and a wider variety of services for local people.

“We believe this will ensure Newham residents reap the benefits of efficient, effective and high quality healthcare services now and into the future.”

It is anticipated that the arms-length company could be established by the end of October this year, with the full business plan and scope of the overall project set to be completed by the end of the year.