Government 'constantly' asking for health hub project updates, meeting told

St George's health and wellbeing hub CGI

What the new health facility could look like when complete - Credit: Bryden Wood

The government is frequently asking about the progress of a new community health hub in Hornchurch, according to its project director.

Keith Flaxman, from the London Health and Care Partnership, said it was getting “constant questions from the Cabinet Office” on the development's progress. 

Last month, the borough green-lit the community health and wellbeing centre – allocated £17million by the government in 2019 – on the former St George’s Hospital site in Suttons Lane. 

Mr Flaxman told a special meeting of Havering's health overview and scrutiny sub-committee on Tuesday, January 4, there was a “huge amount of interest” in the St George’s site. 

He said: “It's probably going to be the only one of the prime minister’s 40 hospitals that will be open before the next election.  

“We get constant questions from the Cabinet Office about where we are with it. So, there's a lot of pressure to deliver it as quick as we possibly can."

The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised 40 new hospitals over the following 10 years.

Main construction is forecast to begin this September with the aim of a full opening in January 2024. 

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The new hub will provide integrated primary care, community and mental health services, as well as some early diagnostic services for cancer. 

Renal dialysis and frailty will be moved from Queen’s Hospital in Romford to the Suttons Lane hub. 

Some GP practices within a two-mile radius are expected to relocate there. 

Mr Flaxman told the sub-committee that the primary care functions were intended for people within a few miles of the hub, but said renal and frailty services would serve all of Havering and parts of Barking and Dagenham and Essex. 

He said the centre would be open seven days a week until 8pm for normal services and until 10pm for renal dialysis. 

He also said he had received “informal information” that the outline business case for the health hub had been approved by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). 

An engagement process has already begun, with 305 responses received so far; it is to be completed by February 14. 

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We are committed to improving health infrastructure across the country including delivering 40 new hospitals by 2030 and over 70 hospital upgrades.

“The £17 million St George’s health and wellbeing hub is one of the hospital upgrades announced by the prime minister in 2019.”

The Cabinet Office declined to comment.