The Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital (EVCH) has been named as the preferred site for the town's new doctors surgery, following the campaign work of Local MP Alan Mak.
Doctors, the local NHS and key Emsworth area stakeholders have agreed that moving into a refurbished building on the disused hospital site in the town centre is the best current solution to meet GPs’ needs.
GPs want to move into a new and bigger surgery to provide a sustainable service in the future and meet the health needs of an expanding local population, as their existing site is cramped and could not cope with an increase in medical services or an expanding patient population.
It comes just six months after the EVCH was placed on the open market for sale, something that was stopped by Alan’s efforts.
That included writing to the NHS, demanding the site be removed from the market, meeting NHS bosses both in Westminster and Havant. He outlined that the key site shouldn’t have been placed for sale until the location of a new surgery was decided.
After winning the argument with the NHS, Alan then organised a meeting for all the local stakeholders in September attended by the NHS Property Services (owners of the building), NHS CCG, Doctors, Havant Borough Council, local community representatives and local councillors where it was decided to try to explore the option of using the EVCH.
However, a key stumbling block remained in place as the deadline for receiving funding was due to expire in October.
Taking the cause to the top of Government, he met with the Health Secretary Matt Hancock and successfully lobbied to get the deadline extended to December, allowing the project to move forward.
Alan Mak MP said: “Just six months ago the Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital was being placed on the open market for sale. I stopped the sale - and now the site is the preferred location for a modern doctors surgery that will serve the entire town. This excellent outcome is testament to all of the effort from the community in supporting the goals of my campaign. While we have achieved much in the last few months, there is still a way to go and I’ll be continuing my work to ensure that the NHS CCG, Doctors and Council work together to deliver this project for the benefit of Emsworth.”
Over the last few months, the original nine potential options for a new location were whittled down to three, following a period of public engagement with patients and residents in Emsworth and Westbourne, where the surgery has a small branch.
Refurbishing Emsworth Victoria Cottage Hospital (EVCH) is seen as having clear advantages for both GPs and the NHS.
These include having enough space for expansion, being within the financial budget available for capital spend as well as being the option most favoured by stakeholders and the local community.
There are still a number of risks that need to be managed and mitigated before the preferred option becomes a firm plan, amongst which are agreements over leasing arrangements with the current property owners as well as other financial and legal issues. These will be agreed in principle by the NHS South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group ahead of the formal business case submission to NHS England, who hold the capital funding.
Following feedback from the local community, the business case will include the option of keeping the Westbourne Branch Surgery open to enable the GP practice to keep its presence in north Emsworth and prepare for a new housing development at Southleigh.
Of the other ‘short list’ options, demolishing EVCH and building a new surgery on the site or moving to a new purpose-built building at Redlands Grange are not considered viable with the current time constraints and budget available.
A business case for the preferred option has to be submitted to NHS England by December 21 to meet the deadline to apply for the £4.4m funding currently allocated to the scheme under the national Estates and Technology Transformation Fund (ETTF). ETTF money cannot be spent on land purchase and usually only funds two-thirds of the total project costs.
The next steps are that a business case will be submitted to NHS England on December 21 to give NHS England enough time to review the papers before its ETTF Review Panel meets in February 2019. The outline business case will need to be agreed by the CCG in January, 2019, as any additional costs would need to be funded by the organisation.