Healthy plans for regeneration

Design & build
Planning has been approved for a new multi-million pound state of the art health centre in Knowsley, Merseyside, which has involved the local community in every aspect of its development. As plans get under way for construction to commence, we look at how one PCT in the region is ensuring that local people remain right at the heart of the project; from conception to completion.

The new health centre is to open in the small town of Kirkby in the borough of Knowsley, an area that is set to see a significant level of regeneration to revitalise the town centre, and the addition of this centre will bring healthcare services to the centre of the community.

Following the announcement of major town centre regeneration, planning permission was granted to build the new Kirkby Health Centre. This has been made possible thanks to a long standing and pioneering partnership between NHS Knowsley and Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council’s Directorate of Wellbeing Services.

The partnership, known as Knowsley Health & Wellbeing, incorporates social care, leisure and culture, and while Knowsley has a range of significant health and social care priorities, the organisation is committed to improving healthcare provision and bringing vital and relevant primary care services closer to local residents.

Currently the town’s NHS services are housed in two clinical buildings, St. Chad’s Health Centre and Kirkby Health Suite, in different parts of the town. The new scheme will see the existing centres replaced by one  brand new 3,691 square metre centre, serving the community from the heart of the town.

The circa £7m health centre development will complement a complete town centre regeneration programme. The wider Kirkby regeneration initiative was given the green light by councillors earlier this year and represents a private investment worth over £200m.The current plans will see Kirkby’s town centre transformed, creating new buildings, new social facilities and in turn hundreds of new jobs.

A legacy in community healthcare
Knowsley comprises a number of small towns, estates and villages and over the past ten years, Knowsley Health & Wellbeing has focused on improving and modernising community healthcare across the whole of the borough. The new Kirkby Health Centre will be the latest in a string of health resource centres designed to offer easy access to a range of high quality primary care services.

Knowsley is already recognising the positive impact of two of its one stop shop style health centre developments that have opened in the borough over the past two years. The Blue Bell Centre in Huyton – opened in May by Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard – and The Halewood Centre, Halewood have both combined energy efficient materials, low energy medical equipment and state of the art construction techniques to bring modern facilities to each of the communities.

Both primary care resource centres house a series of services under one roof in addition to boasting energy efficient credentials such as The Blue Bell Centre’s innovative sedum roof, air source heat pumps, rainwater recycling and solar panels, which have helped to reduce running costs and carbon emissions to world class levels.

Knowsley Health & Wellbeing was keen to use the models as a blueprint and replicate the success of these developments in Kirkby by once again introducing energy efficient building designs as well as bringing all local NHS services together under one roof, ensuring they are more accessible to all local residents.
Kirkby Health Centre scheme

The building

The Kirkby Health Centre development is part of the LIFT initiative (Local Improvement Finance Trust), a joint venture between the local public sector and private sector partner, Renova Developments, which funds modern healthcare provision.

The health centre building, which has been developed by Taylor Young Architects and TACE Mechanical & Electrical, has been designed with the Kirkby regeneration in mind, in keeping with the look and feel of the other new developments in the town. The large three-storey health centre will be glass fronted to utilise natural light and energy, and feature wooden panelling to complement the local landscape, which will include a new Tesco superstore, retail space, a library and a new bus station.

The wood panelling provides effective insulation, which will ensure that running costs are reduced. The building will be constructed to achieve BREEAM excellence standards, similar to the previous resource centres to ensure it meets industry standards in sustainable building, design and construction.

Construction in the community
Construction is set to commence on the building in January 2012 with Knowsley Health & Wellbeing’s newly appointed construction partner Galliford Try Construction North. Keen to ensure that the local community was involved in the development, Knowsley Health & Wellbeing required that its construction partner uses local skills, expertise and labourers to ensure that the centre really has involved the local community in all stages of development.

Not only will the 15-month construction provide access to local jobs and training opportunities, the services which will be contained within the centre have been tailored specifically to meet the needs of the 50,000 residents.

Healthcare in the community
Kirkby Health Centre will provide the people of Kirkby, with two GP practices with a current combined list size of 6,000, community dental services, a Walk-in Centre and a series of rooms that can be used for a range of health and wellbeing services and remain flexible for a range of uses. Out of Hospital services including COPD, CVD and midwifery will also feature in the new centre.

It will also receive permission to remain open until as late as 11pm, giving the opportunity to extend opening hours and offer a more convenient and effective service to suit all residents. The car park has been designed to cater for large mobile screening units that can park up and invite local residents to be tested for conditions such as breast cancer and diabetes.

Involving residents
As part of Knowsley Health & Wellbeing’s commitment to keeping local people involved in all stages of the centre’s development, residents will have the opportunity to attend Health Impact Assessment meetings to have their say on the shaping and improvement of services including what is on offer and when services should offer extended opening hours.

Ian Davies, Knowsley Health & Wellbeing’s director of strategy and programme coordination, said: “Providing quality, modernised healthcare in the heart of the community is a priority at Knowsley Health & Wellbeing and seeing the success of some of our previous resource centres ensured that we have a robust plan for the Kirkby Health Centre. We have seen an uplift in the use of primary care services when they are housed under one roof so we are always looking at ways to improve access to services for the local community.

“Plus, we have seen a demonstrable cost saving at The Blue Bell Centre thanks to the energy efficiency credentials. As such, we were keen to replicate the sufficient green credentials in the build of the new Kirkby Health Centre to ensure that it remains energy efficient and provides the best value for money in the long term.

“Knowsley has some very specific healthcare requirements and we ensure that the healthcare provision we provide is tailored to the needs of the local residents. As part of the development process, we also engage with members of the community so we can shape services to suit their specific needs as well as provide the latest state of the art facilities. In this case, we were also keen to support the economic development of the region so ensuring that construction partners utilised local skills and provided jobs was an excellent way to involve our local residents in every step of the development.”

Kirkby Health Centre will provide:
Two GP practices
One dental practice
One Walk-in Centre
Midwifery clinics
Out of Hospital clinics including COPD, CVD
Primary care mental health services
Physiotherapy, speech and language, dieticians
Minor surgery
Outside area to offer screenings

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