November 13th 2009
Alder Hey wins double approval for iconic project
The £288M plan to create Europe’s first Children’s Health Park at Alder Hey has won crucial backing from the independent body that oversees NHS Foundation Trusts. In a second boost for Alder Hey the NHS Strategic Health Authority has also approved the visionary project.
The endorsement from Monitor and the SHA paves the way for Alder Hey to now present its case to the Department of Health and HM Treasury.
The aim is start work on the Health Park in 2012 to enable the new hospital, set in parkland, to open in 2014, the year Alder Hey celebrates its centenary.
Despite its world-wide reputation for innovative and advances in paediatric health care Alder Hey’s buildings were built to the design of celebrated nurse Florence Nightingale. Though state of the art in Edwardian England, the buildings are overcrowded and unable to meet national guidelines for space and single-sex accommodation.
The news comes hot on the heels of the awarding of ‘double excellent’ rating for quality of services and financial management by the independent Care Quality Commission in their annual health check of English Trusts. This places Alder Hey at the top of its game as the only paediatric Trust to achieve these ratings.
Louise Shepherd, Alder Hey’s chief executive said: “We are delighted to receive Monitor’s approval of our plans, the process for which includes a rigorous testing of the project’s affordability. To win this support, coupled with that of the SHA, is a significant milestone because it paves the way for the next stage of the process.
“Currently we see around 200,000 children and young people each year but at present growth rates expect to see demand for our services increase significantly over the coming years. This is not just an iconic facility for Merseyside but for the country – we receive referrals from 126 of the 154 referring national Primary Care Trusts in England .”
There is overwhelming support for the Children’s Health Park from parents, patients and staff, from politicians of all parties and other stakeholders, but most important of all from the children of the North West . The public consultation conducted in the summer received one of the largest ever responses to a health consultation.
“We were overwhelmed by the response from our young people when we asked for their views and they themselves highlighted the problems identified by professionals – the quarter of a mile corridor separating our A&E Department from the operating theatres, crowded wards, market-place clinics where there is insufficient privacy,” continued Shepherd.
“The Health Park will enable us to cure all of those problems in one go, but importantly we will have a brand new hospital set within a beautiful park where our patients can play and enjoy themselves as part of their recovery process. It will also give us the opportunity to embrace the very latest in environmentally friendly technologies.”
Alder Hey’s chair, Angela Jones, said: “The fact we have become ‘best in class, best in country’ with the achievement of double excellence in our current accommodation is a major testament to our staff. We employ the highest quality health professionals who are attracted from all over the world because of our reputation but who work in cramped and poorly designed facilities.”
There is already a queue of major national and international contractors awaiting final approval of the health park project because the chance to create a new Alder Hey is seen as an NHS project of international importance.
Monitor’s decision was announced by letter to Louise Shepherd from Monitor’s Regulatory Operations Director, Edward Lavelle. It allows the Trust Board to progress the scheme to the next stage.