Published date: 15 June 2021

Refurbishing community hospital wing to enable GP relocation

Saffron Walden Community Hospital, Essex

Background

Customers: Crocus Surgery, West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Essex Partnership University Trust, Virgin Care and Princess Alexandra Trust

NHSPS representatives: Chris Philbedge, Senior Portfolio Optimisation Manager; Barry Clark, Principal Construction Manager; Jo Tuck, Senior Construction Manager; Richard Overall, Senior Property Manager

Contractor: EPCO

Architect: Ingleton Wood

Challenge

Saffron Walden Community Hospital had over 400 sqm of its Curlew wing vacant, with only a small part used for NHS services. There were also pockets of underutilised space across the site, indicating an opportunity for consolidation and more efficient use of space at the hospital.

Nearby, Crocus GP Surgery needed to relocate as the lease on their existing long-term home was due to expire and the listed building they resided in was restrictive. West Essex CCG asked NHS Property Services (NHSPS) to help find a solution.  

Solution

After running an options analysis with the GPs and CCG with the aim of expediting the surgery relocation, the NHSPS proposal to refurbish the vacant wing of Saffron Walden Community Hospital to accommodate the GP was seen to represent the best value for money as well as improve utilisation of estate at the site.

NHSPS teams then worked on designing, securing planning permission and tendering for a construction partner, alongside arranging the relocation of existing occupiers in the hospital to allow the insertion of the surgery which required more space than the 412 sqm of the wing which had remained void. NHSPS has supported the application for Estates and Technology Transformation Funds (ETTF), achieving a NHSE grant of some £2 million for the scheme. Full Business Case approval was granted by NHS England in March 2020 and work started in October 2020

NHSPS and Ingleton Wood worked with internal design practice Softroom to develop a concept design for the waiting and reception areas in order to provide the premises with an identity and make the public areas bright, welcoming and easier to use for patients and staff alike.

Result

The GP surgery moved to the newly refurbished, fit-for-purpose site on 15th July 2021.

The new facility triples the amount of space for the Practice and now comprises 705 sqm Gross Internal Area consisting of 12 clinical rooms, dispensary, meeting space, administrative offices and waiting area enabling accessible access for patients in fully compliant space.

The new surgery allows the Practice to accommodate what is a growing population in Saffron Walden and has transformed the space from which their patients were receiving care; from a facilty which was restricted in terms of its age, ability to expand and reconfigure.

The combined hospital and GP services in one location means the patients can easily access a range of healthcare services from one central and modern health hub.

Beyond the vacant Curlew wing, relocating other occupiers in the hospital to make way for the surgery has meant other parts of the site are now better utilised too, and in one case this has reduced on site occupation costs for a Trust.