Proposal for new health facility at St Albans Council’s office building

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News release: 06 February 2018

Plans to create a new community health facility at St Albans City and District Council’s Civic Centre office building have been given the green light.

St Albans City and District Council offices 2017
The new health facility will house some of Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust’s (HCT) community health services.

At a meeting on Wednesday 24 January, the St Albans District Health and Wellbeing Partnership agreed to support HCT’s proposals to transfer some services to the Council’s Civic Centre building.

The services include those currently provided at St Albans Principal Health Centre on Civic Close, as well as the Leg Ulcer Clinic and Podiatry Service, located at St Albans City Hospital.

In a presentation, HCT Acting Chief Executive, Clare Hawkins said: “The [Principal Health Centre] building is not fit for purpose and this is a fantastic opportunity to relocate our services into a newly refurbished suite in the Council’s own Civic Centre building.”

Last year HCT agreed to sell the health centre site to St Albans City and District Council. The District Council plans to redevelop the site to the south of the Civic Centre building as part of its wider city centre opportunity scheme.

Partnership members broadly welcomed HCT’s proposals, but raised questions about maintaining service “equivalence” for patients and the need to engage with patients about the plans. They also highlighted potential benefits of linking up with other services offered by the voluntary sector at the Civic Centre office building. 

Ms Hawkins said there is an opportunity to enhance existing services by using digital technology and working with partners, for example in the voluntary sector. She added that the Trust will now start a programme developed to engage patients and other stakeholders in the proposals.

Following the meeting, Cllr Robert Donald, Chair of the St Albans District Health and Wellbeing Partnership, said: “The Health and Wellbeing Partnership's unanimous decision to welcome the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust's proposals opens up exciting new possibilities. The relocation of services from the present Principal Health Centre to the Council's own office building will ensure much needed further improvements to the health provision in our city centre. It will also enable the redevelopment of the former Principal Health Centre site as part of the new city centre regeneration plan."

“It was always my ambition when I chaired the Local Strategic Partnership to include the NHS in the Council's Hub as another partner agency. It wasn't possible then but I am delighted that this aspiration can now be achieved. Their presence will create a real public services 'one stop shop' which will offer more for everyone in the same place. It means residents will be able to access a wider range of services in one building beyond those already offered by the voluntary sector, Oaklands College, the Council and the police. There will be mutual benefits and efficiency savings for the NHS Trust, the Council and residents as the use of all the available space is optimised. The public engagement exercise the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust will now carry out will explain these and I am sure also add some helpful ideas for the project's success.”

He concluded: "This new facility will provide an improved St Albans city centre health resource for residents and a further example of what can be achieved in the future by innovative public sector partnership working.”
The Partnership heard that the proposals would also “free up space” at St Albans City Hospital for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s redevelopment plans. The hospital is due to focus on the expansion of planned surgery under the plans.

Some Partnership members urged that St Albans City Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit should be turned into an Urgent Treatment Centre. 

David Evans, Director of Commissioning at Hertfordshire Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it was supportive of HCT’s proposals for relocation of services. He added that the CCG was already looking at developing an Urgent Treatment Centre at the hospital.

The Partnership also received a presentation from West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust on the Care Quality Commission’s decision to remove it from special measures. They congratulated the NHS Trust on the significant improvements that had been made in a range of areas. 

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s Deputy Chief Executive, Helen Brown, explained that work will continue to improve urgent and emergency services. These services are currently under pressure from an increase in patients suffering from flu and respiratory issues and routine surgery has been cancelled in line with national measures. In response to these winter pressures, Watford Hospital has introduced ‘point of care’ testing in the Accident and Emergency to diagnose flu cases so they can be isolated.

At the same meeting, an update on the new Hertswise dementia service was also presented to the Partnership. Members welcomed this support service for dementia sufferers and their carers. The Partnership agreed to promote the service widely and to suggest possible venues for support sessions.
The agenda and papers for St Albans District Health and Wellbeing Partnership's meeting are available online on St Albans City and District Council's website.

Councillor contact:
Councillor Robert Donald, Chair of St Albans District Health and Wellbeing Partnership 
Tel: 01727 841647 

Contact for the media:
Amanda Wilkinson, 
Senior Communications Officer 
St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819317 
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The St Albans District Health and Wellbeing Partnership aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in St Albans City and District. It is comprised of St Albans City and District Council members, the Chair of the County Health and Wellbeing Board and officers representing public health at Hertfordshire County Council. There are also representatives from the following partners and stakeholders: 
  • Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG)
  • St Albans and District Locality Group
  • West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Herts Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust
  • St Albans and Harpenden Patient Group
  • Local Health Watch representative
  • Voluntary Sector representative (Chief Executive, St Albans Community Central St Albans)            
Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust is proposing to offer the following services at the Civic Centre Health Facility: 
  • Digital Retinal Screening
  • Bladder & Bowel Care
  • Leg Ulcer Clinic
  • Diabetes Clinic
  • Podiatry Service
  • Children’s Hearing Service
  • Children’s Speech & Language Therapy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics Service
  • Health Visiting                                                                                                                                 
    • Baby Clinic
    • Breast Feeding Clinic
    • Health Checks
    • Post Natal Group
    • Weaning Talk