New hospital for Harlow could be open as soon as 2024

By Local Democracy Reporter
Piers Meyler

A NEW £400m hospital in Harlow could be open in as few as five and a half years – a board deciding on the preferred options to build a new general hospital in the town has heard.

The board of Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) agreed to proceed with a preferred option plan to build a new hospital in Harlow on greenfield land close to the M11 junction 7a, using a blended finance mix of public and private funding – even though how much money is to come from each strand is being worked through now.

And although the hospital could be opening its doors to the first patients as early as 2024, it will not be fully operational for some time after that.

Through a phased transfer of services the first to start operating will be the lower risk ones followed by high risk and acute services.

PAH CEO Lance McCarthy said that other options may come to the fore as the hospital develops its strategic and outline business cases.

The board is now developing a preconsultation business case ahead of a three month public consultation which will be followed by a two month feedback.

That will help develop the strategic outline case before an outline business case is eventually approved at the end of 2020.

It is hoped a final business case will be approved by the summer of 2021 and contracts are signed in August 2021.

Mr McCarthy said: “We are about two years away realistically from having a full business case if everything runs smoothly and assuming it runs smoothly funding comes through as part of that process and then there is a three and a half year build.

“So realistically we are five and half years away from a new hospital.”

The hospital, which will be built to cater for 53,000 extra homes being planned for the area over the next 20 years, will also have the potential to expand by 20 per cent.

As many as 650 homes could eventually be built where the current hospital stands.

Michael Meredith, director of strategy, said work on the new hospital’s size, phasing, costing and traffic analysis has led to the belief that building afresh in east Harlow was the best option.

He said: “Where the hospital is located has one significant impact and that impact is time and time has an impact on cost of delivering the services.

“Time for construction of an offsite option would be three and a half years and time for construction on-site is five and a half years.

“We have also looked at what an on-site option would have on delivering our existing business.

“We would potentially have contractors on that site for five and a half years. It can be done and has been done.

“But the advice is it would have a significant impact on our business and fundamentally we would have to work really closely with contractors to decant into a new building and then demolish the existing building.

“The other impact time has is on value for money – the longer it takes to build a new building the longer it takes us to start delivering the clinical benefits and the financial benefits of the new hospital.”

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7 Responses to "New hospital for Harlow could be open as soon as 2024"

  1. D.p.l   March 8, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Harlow does definitely need a new Hospital but something else that should be put in place is a bus service, so patients from Harlow can commute to the hospital easily.

  2. tenpin   March 8, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    There is an error in this report. Whilst Harlow Council’s Local Plan identifies the present hospital site will be used to build 650 homes, it was made clear at the above meeting that as things stand the site will have room for just 400 homes because one of the services on the site is not moving. They are hoping that this service will be persuaded to move to the new site, in which case the number of new homes will be increased to 450. This is an example of the many errors in Harlow Council’s Local Plan. I would add that this was a very interesting meeting and one that was chaired very well and shone a light on the huge amount of working taking place to ensure that any new hospital meets the needs of residents in the Harlow catchment area.

  3. durcant   March 9, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    I will agree on at least one point from Tenpin reply.
    If we do which I suspect we will have a new health campus we will still not only retain the mental health unit on the current site but should also retain a satellite site for some acute health provision.
    We need to reduce the actual numbers of people being forced to attend a single campus.
    We should retain several of the new buildings for OPD services and more routine but important services.
    Why expect everyone from the West Essex area to only have the new health campus as the only acute care provision.
    The idea that everything will move isn’t realistic or affordable.
    As a community we should stand together and if this is our NHS is should be fully funded by public money and not private companies or others.
    The new health campus won’t solve the bigger issue around under funding and under investment in primary and community care.
    Sadly we don’t hear how this crisis is being resolved.
    Thank you.

  4. tenpin   March 10, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Well Durcant, it was made quite quite clear from what was said at this meeting that there is no intention to leave any services at the present hospital site if at all possible. A lot was said about what could be described as “working smarter”, getting services closer together on the new site so that staff and patients do not have to waste time travelling across the site for different services as at present. A question was raised about reinstating A&E’s at Epping and Bishop Stortford. It was explained that this was not possible, such a service requires other services like an operating theatre close by and I would suggest an x ray department and blood testing service. There simply is not enough room at these other sites, I suspect because land has been sold off for housing. Leaving more and more services on the current site changes the outcome of at least two of the five tests being used to evaluate where the hospital should be built, namely the clinical and financial aspects of each plan as well as Harlow Council’s Local Plan which says 650 homes will be built on the site, which is actually only 450 at most and will be even less if more services are retained on the existing site. Its a pity that as far as I could tell there was only one Harlow Councillor present at this important meeting.

  5. durcant   March 11, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Morning Tenpin.
    Thank you for the update.
    Whilst I respect what the managers want regarding the new site a feel it should be more about what is best for our community.
    The current site is ideal for local access and as they have just built new buildings it would be a complete waste of public money not to use them fully.
    My personal view is local access is critical to local people.
    Local services that are locally accessible.
    Fully acccept the need for a new West Essex campus that is fully funded by government,not private funded.
    Satellite sites are efficient and effective.
    Looking forward to the consultation process.
    Let hope we’re all open minded about change challenges and opportunities.
    Have a great day.

  6. tenpin   March 11, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Good afternoon to you Durcant.

    One of the tests being used is a clinical assessment, which identifies the way that patients can best be treated and making best use of staff resources. It was made clear that this would be designed into the new hospital so that services would be close to each other on site, hence the need to decant all services from the present site. I pointed out to those at the meeting that whilst a sustainable transport corridor was being planned for the town, this was unfunded and even if work was to start today the hospital could be up and running years before the corridors would be completed. Some 3000 staff work at the present site, even more will be needed for a new hospital, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how difficult it could be to get to the hospital. HAP

  7. tenpin   March 11, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Last post not complete …. HAP have a number of concerns about moving from the present site,1) the new site is 3.5 miles to the East, putting it nearer to one edge of it’s patient catchment area, 2) being near the town centre enables visitors and patients to pop across to the town centre to shop, 3) it is in easy walking distance for thousands of people living in homes nearby and 4) is not isolated for visitors in the evening. I am afraid that it did not sound as though any of these factors would play a part in the final decision as to where the hospital would be built. I suspect the land value will play a big part in this decision, it was said at the meeting that one of the sites at Gilston had been discounted because it would have been to costly to develop and the land off Gilden Way was cheaper than others.

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