Still no progress on plans for new health hub at St George's Hospital site

An image showing what the health and wellbeing centre on the former St George's Hospital site in Hor

An image showing what the health and wellbeing centre on the former St George's Hospital site in Hornchurch could look like. - Credit: NELFT/Bryden Wood

A decision is still to be made on plans for a new health and wellbeing centre at the former St George’s Hospital site in Hornchurch.

Plans to build a new facility on the Suttons Lane site were reported by this newspaper in February, with a preliminary consultation taking place in April.

The multi-faceted scheme - fronted by the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) - would see a range of services, including renal dialysis, relocated out of Romford's Queen's Hospital.

Community services such as podiatry and speech and language therapy would also operate from the new St George's facility, as well as mental health provision.

An early diagnostic unit for cancer is also included in the plans.

Additionally, the new Suttons Lane centre would provide GP services to residents living within two miles of the site.

An application was submitted in May, and according to the council's planning portal, a decision was expected by September 6. 

When questioned by the Recorder about this, a council spokesperson only said the application "will be reviewed at the strategic planning committee in due course".

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The planning statement said: "The existing healthcare property estate in Havering and south Havering especially has critical operational constraints, including existing capacity shortfalls and new or expanded health facilities are needed."

With plans first mooted as long ago as 2012/2013, redevelopment of the former hospital site has been under consideration for a long time, and an initial proposal for a 3,000sqm facility was approved in June 2020.

However, after that decision, it was identified that additional services - namely the renal and frailty services provided by Queen's - need to be moved.

This would take space above the approved 3,000sqm proposal, meaning a new application was required.

All services included in this latest application are subject to further public consultation.

According to an Outline Business Case (OBC) included in the application, renal and frailty services need relocating from Queen's because the current site for the former is too small and the latter is struggling to deal with as many as 600 emergency department attendances each week.

It seeks to provide GP services to those living within two miles because, the application says, there are concerns many practices in the borough are operating out of converted residential properties.

As such, the plans aim to absorb four nearby practices into the new facility: High Street Surgery, Upminster Bridge Surgery and Dr Rahman & Tsoi's practices in South End Road and Stanley Road.

Beyond the pressure on Queen's Hospital, population growth is also a factor the application considers.

The OBC presents population statistics for every area expected to be covered by the new St George's centre, which includes all Havering wards and Village and Eastbrook in Barking and Dagenham.

According to the Greater London Authority (GLA), the combined population of Havering and those two wards is expected to increase from the current estimate of 285,025 to 319,989 by 2033.

Of this almost 35,000 increase, the biggest surges are anticipated in Romford Town, Brooklands and the nearby South Hornchurch ward.

Another consideration is that, with a median age of 39, Havering has the oldest population in London, according to the 2011 Census.

There is some uncertainty surrounding the projected timeline should the project go ahead.

This is because, although the OBC estimates that construction would be complete by February 2023, this is on the basis of a full planning application being submitted on March 1 this year.

Additionally, an extra £9.7million needs to be identified to fund the project, on top of the £17m secured in 2019.

This is because it's now estimated the scheme will cost £26.67m, up from the original £18m projected. 

The early diagnostic centre, frailty unit and electric substation are listed as additional costs.

It's proposed that the Elm Park Clinic be sold to partially offset this.

To learn more about the proposal, visit nelft.nhs.uk/our-proposals



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