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Plans to redevelop St George’s Hospital, Hornchurch, ‘abandoned in 2010 because of lack of GP support’

St George's Hospital (photo: Steve Poston) St George's Hospital (photo: Steve Poston)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
2:35 PM

Costly plans to build a polyclinic and GP surgery at St George’s Hospital three years ago stalled in part because GPs were unwilling to move onto the site, it has emerged.

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In numbers

Total number of responses: 126

People who attended meetings and drop-ins: over 200

Formal responses from MPs: 0

Support for the CCG’s preferred option: 57 per cent (55 people)

Previously it had been thought the plans were put aside when the health trust that drew them up was absorbed into a larger cluster.

Dr Gurdev Saini, the GP leading the redevelopment of the site, also told the Recorder the people of Havering “overwhelmingly support” plans for a “centre of excellence for older people” on the site.

But throughout the three-month consultation period that ended in May, concerns were regularly raised before health chiefs that the buildings – which have been in public hands since the formation of the NHS – should be preserved rather than sold.

Collier Row GP Dr Saini said: “Everybody kept coming back to the remaining site and asking whether there were going to be houses built – and that’s not our responsibility.

The hospital has been shut to all patients since a Legionella outbreak last yearThe hospital has been shut to all patients since a Legionella outbreak last year

“I can’t tell property services what they should do, but we can say this is what people said, and see if they will consider that.”

When asked if alternatives could be found, such as leasing or renting the land to retain greater control, he said he doubted that would raise enough cash.

“But from the health side,” he added, “we are looking at building something that should give excellent care to all patients.”

Following the consultation, the Clinical Commissioning Group’s preferred plans will be adopted, with the addition of an education centre for clinicians, patients and voluntary sector groups.

GP Dr Saini speaking to the public at a drop-in consultation on the St George's Hospital plansGP Dr Saini speaking to the public at a drop-in consultation on the St George's Hospital plans

“We didn’t think about it but quite a lot of people suggested it,” added Dr Saini.

“They can have clinicians coming in and patients can meet together there like a support group.”

Another addition to the plans is an “urgent care” facility – a service to divert people with minor injuries away from A&E.

“We’re looking at care of the elderly and providing a one-stop clinic so people don’t have to go all over the place to have their care delivered,” Dr Saini added.

The health of St George's HospitalThe health of St George's Hospital

The plans are reliant on NHS Property Services finding a buyer for 90 per cent of the Suttons Lane site. The authority has yet to start looking.

“It was considered [in 2010] having a having a polyclinic but there wasn’t much interest from the GPs, so it was dropped because it wasn’t viable,” Dr Saini said.

“But now GPs have come forward to look at movement to that site.”

Among the issues for GPs was money that had already been spent improving existing surgeries.

Recorder FOIs revealed last year that the abandoned St George’s plans, which were never acted on, cost the taxpayer £100,000.

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