A state of the art £15 million health centre offering GP and primary health care services in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, opened on 11 November 2019.
The site was chosen for its central location and has successfully blended the refurbishment of the former Alfred Barrow School with a modern addition, meaning that a key local landmark has been preserved at the same time as facilitating integrated service provision for the town.
Engagement with the community began in 2013 and heralded the start of a development process that took place against a backdrop of difficult economic circumstances and significant structural changes in the NHS both nationally and locally.
The resulting 5,000m2 facility brings together a range of primary and community health services on one site, supporting a more integrated health system for local people with the Victorian school building being sensitively preserved, retaining original features and housing much of the office accommodation and staff welfare facilities. It is linked with a modern new build extension housing patient-facing services and all clinical spaces.
Developed by eLIFT Cumbria Ltd (eLC), a Public Private Partnership involving Community Health Partnerships Ltd (CHP) as the public sector partner, the design set out to create an innovative workspace which departs from more conventional layouts to help people focus on new ways of working and collaboration. To this end, for example, it has taken a pragmatic approach to room sizes, recognising the constraints of the listed building and lessons learnt from P22 schemes, incorporating systems to optimise room use and utilising shared reception, waiting and meeting spaces. Outside, there is a bay for mobile diagnostic facilities, cycle stands and provision for electric charging points for cars.
The new health centre will co-locate primary, community and children’s health services provided by three relocated General Practices and three Foundation Trusts. The facilities will also operate as a response base for the ambulance service and provide a community pharmacy.
Mark Day, Chief Operating Officer of CHP, said: “We are delighted to have had a key role in delivering this new Health Centre, which supports the provision of integrated care for the people of Barrow and provides a first-class working environment for those that care for them. eLC is an innovative company which has made the very best of a challenging site that the whole town can be proud of.”
The centre is the fourth facility to be developed in Cumbria by eLC. All of them are managed by directly employed, local staff. Tristan Firth, eLC’s Development Director is particularly proud of this latest scheme.
“Given the economic backdrop, the extensive change within the NHS and the nature of the site, we knew at the outset that this would be a challenging project. That we’ve delivered a building in which the whole community can be proud is testament to the collaborative approach taken by all the stakeholders and the nature of the full service the company has and is providing.”
At a celebratory event in early November, organisations moving into the health centre showcased their services and members of the public had the chance to look around the centre.
Geoff Jolliffe, Chair of Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“This project has been in the making for many years and will give the people of Barrow the boost they deserve. Barrow is a town that has a lot going for it, but we do have health problems and part of solving these problems is by having health services that can respond to the need.
“By having all these services under one roof they will be able to streamline the way they work and create links that move us towards a more integrated health care system.”