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Cockermouth's new Hospital....Report in 2013 on the development

By the end of January 2014 patients should be stepping through the doors of Cockermouth's new hospital. The majority of services are expected to be available at the facility once work is completed.

Inside the new building there will be a wide range of health services available including: Kirkgate NHS Dental Practice, Castlegate Pharmacy (including Derwent House dispensary), community physiotherapy, podiatry, a diagnostic suite, minor injuries and minor surgery theatre, an 11 bed inpatient ward, rehabilitation physiotherapy, vascular screening, retinoscopy and some hospital consultant clinics. The new health facility will also be the base for children’s community nurses, midwives, health visitors and district nurses.
The £15 million development includes a new 130 space car park with CCTV registration control for people using the health facilities.
The NHS health facility is owned by eLift Cumbria who have a 25 year lease on the building. The land has been owned by the Friends of Cockermouth Hospital, who made it available for the new hospital. After 100 years the League could once again regain ownership or eLift Cumbria could seek to extend its lease.
eLift Cumbria is a community health partnership organisation with 40 per cent of the shares owned by the Department of Health and 60 per cent by Express Lifts Development Investment Ltd. This means 40 per cent of any profit from the project at Cockermouth will be re-invested into the NHS health economy.

Dr Simon Desert, Clinical Lead, GP Castlegate Surgery said: “The design principles of the new health centre are built around integrated services - creating a flexible space where GPs, consultants and the wider health and social care teams can work together to provide the best care for patients. Previously, consultant clinics were held in Cockermouth. Due to the floods in 2009 the lack of space resulted in a suspension of these services. Now, we are now working with the hospital trust to bring back these services again and the first is a new paediatric clinic which we will start to run this month in the temporary buildings at the hospital site.”

“The design of the building is integral to the new style of delivering care. Rather than GPs and consultants working individually in rooms along long corridors, we have been able to create more open spaces where we can work collaboratively together. This style of building has been something new for our architects, who are specialists in designing medical buildings.

“The hospital itself will provide a superior environment for patients, providing privacy and dignity for in-patients with all wards en-suite. There will be an improved working environment for the rehabilitation teams and the opportunity for GPs working in collaboration with the acute trust to provide day-case surgery.

“From the moment a patient arrives they will experience a new way - focusing around sharing care with patients. The old style reception with the desk as a barrier will be replaced with an open planned working area providing patients with access to their own records; IT points where they can self check-in and make their own future appointments. The area will be designed to provide private reception points where patients can discuss complex, confidential issue in a more private setting. This will be a patient centred building."

At a recent Neighbourhood Forum meeting Dr Desert gave a 'walk through ' description: “The ground floor comprises a series of en suite bedrooms, day spaces, theatre suite, gym, NHS dentistry and a community hub for staff. This floor would also include diagnostics.”
He added: “We hope to get X ray and ultra sound scans here."
“On the first floor would be the Derwent and Castlegate GP surgeries, nursing suites, outpatient physio, podiatry and acute trust consultants. He also hoped to see the return of obstetrics clinics.”
He said the pharmacy staffing meant 'lone working' rules would not restrict extended opening hours for minor injuries treatment. His overall comment was "By putting services together, we think we can make it all viable."
The meeting heard that Lady Egremont had retained a restrictive covenant on potential future use of land. Dr Desert said planning rules meant car park had to be limited to 130 spaces. On entry there would be number plate recognition and if drivers left within the set period (probably two hours) the barrier would rise without charge. If they stayed longer they would then be asked to pay. This was to discourage drivers leaving vehicles for lengthy periods. Councillor Eric Nicholson added at the Forum that the authorities were also thinking of introducing a two hour disc parking for Isel Road. Dr Desert said the hope was that bus services would increase to the hospital site as it grew in usage.
Coun Nicholson appealed to the team to delay demolition of the old hospital to ensure alternative uses could be explored.
Many of you will have heard that Derwent House Surgery is seeing several partner changes, we’ve asked the surgery for information about this. Dr Kopparthi has taken an opportunity to move to Australia for health and family reasons and Dr Denham felt she did not wish to move into the new building with Derwent House.
Link to the Friends of Cockermouth Hospital website.

Background to ownership (statement from NHS): "LIFT (Local Improvement Finance Trust) is public-private partnership which works with local organisations to provide modern buildings. These buildings are owned by the public-private partnership, run by the LIFTCo (eLIFT Cumbria) and leased or rented to service providers for a period of twenty years.It is the Department of Health’s preferred method for renewing primary care estates. Currently half of the Primary Care Trusts in England are using LIFT to update their health facilities and it has already delivered £1.9 billion of new primary healthcare buildings. Unlike Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) the assets are not exclusively owned by the private sector. The public sector has a 40 per cent stake in the ownership of the buildings through its shareholding in the LIFTCo."

Cockermouth.org.uk asked the CHP about the leasing costs of the hospital in future years and was told: "The financial viability of the new Community Hospital & Health Centre was subject to a rigorous process which the former Primary Care Trust oversaw. CHP is not directly responsible for the setting of the lease sum paid to any LIFT Company as these values are contractually agreed at the time of the Financial Close for each individual scheme. All lease values are agreed within an affordability cap as part of the business case approval process and are subject to various benchmarking reviews to ensure they demonstrate for value for money prior to being approved. CHP does not currently provide - within the public domain - details of the lease sums payable to LIFT companies."

DS