Agenda item

Shotley Bridge Hospital Update


The Committee received a presentation from Rachel Rooney, Head of Commissioning, NHS County Durham CCG that provided an update on Shotley Bridge Community Hospital Services (for copy of presentation, see file of minutes).


The presentation highlighted the following:-


·        The vision

·        The principles of the project

·        Progress to date

·        The current estate

·        Estate option

·        Communication and engagement

·        What had happened since engagement in 2019

·        Proposed clinical model

·        Legal duties of engagement and consultation


The Head of Commissioning highlighted the next steps:-

·        Development of Outline Business Case – Aug/Sept 2021

·        Development of full business case & approvals – Summer 2022

·        Ongoing public engagement

·        Consultation (as part of the building planning process)

·        Construction start Summer 2022

·        Construction completion

o   New build – Early 2024

o   Refurbishment of existing site – up to a year later


Councillor Haney asked at what point did the CCG decide just to move on without public consultation, as promised back in December 2018.  The Head of Commissioning referenced the extensive public engagement that had been undertaken in Spring 2019 and which had been reported to the Committee and had informed the project proposals. She further explained that there had been continuous monitoring since they announced the potential consultation.  However, the risks around consultation were far outweighed by the costs and the time it would take.  She added that feedback had influenced their work and had improved part of the project.  She explained that if the CCG did not move swiftly they may not secure funding.


The Head of Integrated Commissioning went on to explain that the business case needed to be submitted as soon as possible in order to secure the funding.  Feedback at events had a very clear message for the CCG to ‘just get on with it’ and this could be demonstrated with the views of the public determining the changes to the model.  She informed the committee that they clearly knew what services had to be delivered and the changes to the clinical model of care. They were keen to now secure the funding and deliver a new hospital for the area.


Councillor Haney was concerned that a consultation had been promised and that the vast majority of people in the area would not be aware of the proposals.


The Chair asked if there was a time constraint on the £10 million funding and was advised that it was part of the overall hospital programme.  40 hospitals had been allocated funding and as this was an agile project there was a need to move swiftly to secure it.  Other projects were much larger and could overspend which could impact on this minor scheme.


Councillor Holmes commented that if the engagement process was sufficient and a consultation exercise was not required this could add an additional 12 months to the project.  He was concerned that it was not an unlimited pot of money that would fund this project and asked what would happen if the government funding expired.  The Head of Commissioning explained that they would need to source new capital through other means.  She added that the current building was not fit for purpose and there was a need to maintain safety parameters.


Mrs Hassoon was surprised to hear that people in the area would not know what was happening as she was aware that many meetings had been held and that the former Councillor Temple had represented the people very well in his local area.


Councillor Earley said the hospital did not make the best of the opportunity available to them and he had tried to come up with solutions over the years.  The Friends of the Hospital Support Group had approached Project Genesis and also approached the Housing Association regarding funding for a health care village.  He added the number of beds should be in line with other community hospitals with the same population. He wanted to see the hospital move forward but agreed that there should be a public consultation for the people in the local area to have a say in what they wanted, especially as an incinerator would be 500 metres from the new build.  The Head of Integrated Commissioning advised that the independent sector beds provided an intermediate level of acre and the inpatient beds provided a lower level of care for those patients that had been discharged and required care closer to home.  There were 8 beds in Shotley Bridge and the proposal was to increase this to 16 beds.  16 beds were also available in the Richardson hospital and Sedgefield hospital to meet the needs of the population.  This allowed GPs to set up and allow for people to be cared for closer to home.  16 beds were appropriate for the need and if this was increased it may lead to a reduction in other areas. 


Regarding funding, Councillor Earley suggested that the CCG approach the County Council and asked to prudentially borrow the money.  He touched upon personal experiences of having to use three buses to visit his mother in Bishop Auckland hospital, travelling from Consett.


Councillor Watson, a member of the Shotley Bridge Reference Group for the last four years, commented that the engagement exercise had been extensive.  He had faith in the NHS and the CCG who had operated an open door policy in terms and as a local person and councillor he was aware of people’s opinions about the hospital.  He said that people had become sceptical that a new hospital would not be built and he was concerned that any further delays could mean additional construction costs and a risk of losing the funding.  He said that the CCG had been impeccable around the engagement carried out.


Councillor Bell agreed with Councillor Watson and added that it was time to push ahead and get this project up and running.


Councillor Robson also agreed with those comments from Councillors Watson and Bell as any delays could cost more money.


Councillor Higgins on the other hand could not support this as he believed a consultation exercise would be a fair democratic process.


Referring to the other services available at Shotley Bridge, such as dental treatment, Councillor Hovvels reminded the committee that the hospital provided services for the wider area, not just Consett and Stanley.


Councillor Martin said he understood the clear arguments but this was about bringing people along with you on the journey.  He asked how a 12 week consultation would result in a 12 month delay to the project.  The Head of Commissioning reported that a significant amount of planning around the construction had taken place together with looking at plans around the clinical model which had been out for engagement.  If any of this changed it could result in a different model of care and could exceed the £30 million capital budget.  The regulations of the NHS England criteria involved a significant lead in time with months of planning at each stage.  They scrutinised each decision and this would have an initial three month timescale if they deemed it appropriate.  Therefore the 12 month delay was a reasonable assumption but it could be longer.  There were no plans to reduce the service and therefore this does not warrant a public consultation.


The Head of Commissioning said that through engagement significant responses had been received as people were passionate about their community hospital.  Engagement would continue around the next stage and the CCG were committed to do that as they had worked extremely hard to engage with the local community.  She would look for an example of work for other new hospitals to give the committee some assurances, further to a question from Councillor Martin.


The Head of Integrated Commissioning added that due to the engagement exercises the number of beds had doubled from 8 to 16 and that all services would be maintained except endoscopy which had not been delivered on site for a number of years.  There were a number of unresolved issues with the current building.  She said that they were ready now to engage on what the future building design would be and what needs to change.  They did not want to silence people and were keen to continue engaging.  She pointed out that there were many benefits to moving forward with this project as opposed to the risk of losing the funding if it was delayed any further.


Councillor Gunn asked that if the business case were approved and the CCG maintained public engagement, how long would they envisage this would take.  The Head of Commissioning explained that the next steps would be for a new build or a refurb of the existing build, the timetable of which was included in the presentation.


The Chair thanked the officers for the presentation.


Resolved: That the update be noted.

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