LAST week, we reported that a decision on a new hospital in Harlow may come as early as this summer.
Minister for Health Stephen Barclay told the House of Commons that the NHS is working with bosses at Princess Alexandra Hospital to develop a strategy for an investment assessment.
He agreed that the hospital, which was completed in 1966, is in a poor condition.
The statement was in response to Robert Halfon who asked the hospital minister to confirm that Harlow is at the “top of the list” for capital funding and that the town will get the new hospital it “desperately needs”.
Mr Barclay said: “We recognise that the Princess Alexandra Hospital estate is in a poor condition.
“NHS Improvement is working with the trust to develop an estate and capital strategy by summer 2018 to be assessed, with other schemes put forward, for the next capital announcement for sustainability and transformation partnerships.
“I am very happy to meet my right honourable friend to have further discussions about it.”
The chief executive of Princess Alexandra Hospital says a new hospital is needed for the town to keep up with its housing and population growth.
Lance McCarthy, the trust’s chief executive, has said almost £100m investment is needed to maintain current standards over the next decade.
He is now developing an outline business case to replace the outdated hospital.
An additional £50m is thought to be needed to make the improvements necessary to refurbish wards and to bring the hospital up to modern standards.
Speaking after news the hospital had been taken out of special measures in March, Mr McCarthy said : “The environment doesn’t help. We are working out of original 1960s buildings and infrastructure that causes us significant problems on a regular basis.
“It is becoming increasingly hard to maintain and increasingly hard for us to provide modern services in a building that wasn’t designed for the volume and type of care we are providing.
“If we project ahead, we need a new hospital to manage care into the future.”
The hospital has identified £27m worth or improvements that are required over the next five years which increases to £90m over the next decade.
Mr McCarthy added: “That is just to stay still and then we need another £50m to refurbish wards and bring the hospital up to modern standards.
“With those figures you are looking at building a new hospital.
“We’ve submitted a strategic outline case to the regulator NHS Improvement that is with the Department of Health and we are meeting them at the end of the May to hopefully get formal approval to develop an outline business case – a detailed business case for a new hospital.”
In the meantime, the population of Harlow and the surrounding areas are expected to increase dramatically over the next 15 years.
“We are really clear we need it because of current environmental issues and concerns and to future proof and to provide the best care we can,” Mr McCarthy added.
“We are working really closely with councils around their housing plans. The five or six boroughs we serve are set to have 51,000 new homes by 2033.
“That’s a lot of extra people. We are working closely with them to understand that and the type of patient and demographic who will move in.”
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