Robert Halfon continues his call for new hospital for Harlow

HARLOW MP reaffirms call for new hospital in area: ‘This is on the government to act’

Robert Halfon has reaffirmed the desperate need for a new hospital “that is fit for the demands of the 21st century” in his constituency in order to deal with surging demand and take pressure off existing healthcare providers in the area.

Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, made an impassioned speech on the case for a new facility in the area in a bid to deal with the mounting burden on the present site, the nearby Princess Alexandra Hospital.

The current site, operated by Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, was placed into special measures two years ago, but taken out of the categoryCQC inspectors in March this year.

Since then, the trust has grown in strength—areas including the trust’s maternity unit, where the team delivers more than 4,200 babies a year, has a rate of stillbirths 10% lower than the national average, warranting an ‘outstanding’ rating from the health inspectorate.

Speaking to MPs in the Commons yesterday, Halfon said despite the improving practice from the hospital which serves 350,000 people, the provider is “no longer able to cope under the pressure of an influx of patients.”

“Cracks are already evident in the accident and emergency department,” Halfon said. “Back in 1966, the A&E unit was designed for approximately 60,000 attendances per year. It is currently seeing 68% more than that, with 200 to 300 attendances per day. That figure is 10% higher than the national average and, against its size, places the hospital as the busiest A&E department in England.

“In the latest board meeting of directors in October 2018, it was suggested that July 2018 was ‘the busiest ever month…at the trust for the A&E, with attendances as high as 9,400.”

Halfon said a new healthcare campus, proposed by Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, “would encompass accident and emergency services, general practitioner provision, social care, physiotherapy and a new ambulance hub in state-of-the-art, purpose-built facilities.”

He explained: “State-of-the-art facilities and a quality healthcare campus would at least offer the hospital the chance to enter the same race. The new campus and medical training facilities would allow the hospital both to attract and retain the very best staff. It would become an apprenticeships and skills centre, offering high-class, nursing degree apprenticeships. This is on the government to act.

“I take this opportunity to thank the government for the announcement of £20.5bn additional annual funding for the NHS, and I ask, in the light of this spending and the end of austerity, as the prime minister and the chancellor said, is this not the most apt time to provide the Princess Alexandra Hospital with the bright future that it is determined to have?”

In his response, health minister Stephen Barclay said the government’s sustainability and transformation fund is part of a commitment to spend £3.9bn on capital investment in buildings and facilities by 2022-23; of which Harlow submitted a bid for.

Barclay added: “I know that considerable work was done following the earlier application when a bid of between £500m and £600m was submitted. I am sure he will recognise that this was a significant sum but that the further work has brought it closer to the £330m, and officials in NHS England and NHS Improvement are working closely with the Department [of Health and Social Care] to evaluate that bid alongside the other bids.

“As I mentioned in the previous debate, all bids will be assessed against standard criteria, including their value for money and contribution to transforming services and managing demand sustainably, as well as demonstrating their fit within a wider STP level estate strategy.”

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