To consider a report from Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme (copy enclosed).
Members were informed that the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals programme was leading the local NHS response to the Government’s initiative to build 40 new hospitals by 2030. It was explained this was a fundamental and critical programme that would shape the future of hospital services for people and provide high-quality services bringing significant wider economic benefit for the area.
Members were informed that University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTHTr) were awarded £5m each as seed funding to progress the required business cases to secure capital investment to redevelop/replace ageing estates which were no longer fit for purpose.
The Committee was informed that the funding was part of a national programme which would be phased to ensure there was efficient construction capacity. Officers expressed their optimism whilst being mindful of the need to learn lessons from previous PFIs.
Officers explained that investment in Lancashire and South Cumbria’s NHS hospital infrastructure would enable the provision of the art facilities and technology, strengthening its position as a centre of excellence for research, education and specialised care. It was anticipated this would significantly boost the attractiveness of the area to potential recruits and the highest calibre of clinicians.
A discussion took place regarding the provision of services closer to home and accessibility by public transport. It was explained that the Programme was committed to ensuring new hospitals fully embraced the benefits of digital technologies to create an agile network of care, allowing it to optimise the size of the physical footprint and minimise environmental impact. It was felt that this in turn would enable the provision of more specialised services in hospitals and deliver more care closer to home as part of the wider ambitions of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership.
Members highlighted the need to improve efficiency through internal communications using digital technologies. Officers acknowledged that due to the geography of the county it was important to ensure records were accessible, therefore, it had been agreed there would be one digital system which could be shared across the whole system.
During the course of discussion officers confirmed there was no intention to close hospitals. It was emphasised the Programme was to build new hospitals, highlighting that work in Cumbria should never be under estimated with regards to integrated communities. It was felt there was a need to ensure communities remained strong with continued investment in the future.
A discussion took place regarding the previous difficulties regarding recruitment and retention to Women’s and Children’s Services. Officers anticipated that the plans to build education centres together with multi?disciplinary working as part of this Programme would help to improve those services.
Members were informed that currently the hospital estate was some of the worst in the North West and did not comply with many basis standards and restricted its ambition to provide high quality, safe, efficient and cost?effective services for communities. It was explained that the condition of the Royal Lancashire Infirmary (RLI) and Royal Preston Hospital (RPH) had reached a critical stage. Officers felt the poor condition of the hospital infrastructure was a structural barrier to the ability to recruit and retain the number of staff required to deliver services. Officers highlighted the need to demonstrate in the Business Case the investments required.
During the course of discussion the Committee asked whether it was the intention to downgrade the RNLI to Westmorland General Hospital status. Officers confirmed the aim was to deliver better care for the population in Lancashire and South Cumbria and not to increase inequalities and reduce care.
A member raised the possibility of Garstang being used as a potential site; it was confirmed that this had been discussed but emphasised no decision had been made as this was still in the engagement stage.
Members discussed the need to invest in Furness General Hospital’s infrastructure in the context of its strategic importance and geographically remote locations noting no decision had been taken regarding locations.
A concern was raised regarding the length of time which mental health facilities had been artificially separately and questioned whether it would be possible to combine services again.
The Committee noted that the UHMBT and LTHTr schemes were in the Government’s second phase with an ambition to start building in 2025 with an aim to open new hospital facilities by 2030. It was explained this was a phasing process with eight hospitals progressing and Lancashire and South Cumbria being included in the category.
Officers emphasised the need to incorporate engagement and consultation with patients, local people, staff and stakeholders throughout the New Hospitals Programme’s process as this would inform and shape final proposals. Members were informed that to?date over 20,000 comments had been received.
In conclusion the Committee noted that the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme was leading the response to the Government’s initiative which offered the opportunity to transform the hospital facilities and services they provided and bring significant economic benefit well beyond the NHS.
(1) the report be noted;
(2) the Committee be kept updated of future developments;
(3) the case for change be circulated to members.