News in brief: green funding in Buckinghamshire, reconfiguration plans in Essex, new approach for urgent care in London, and more

Greener healthcare for Buckinghamshire

NHS Property Services has invested £1.8 million into upgrading Winslow Health Centre in Buckinghamshire, as part of larger efforts to cultivate environmentally friendly healthcare facilities in the region.

The funding has enabled the expansion of Winslow Health Centre, which now comprises additional consulting rooms, treatment rooms and a purpose built dispensary offering a range of healthcare services and has increasing capacity across local communities.

The centre’s ‘greener’ modifications include “unique render” to the building’s external walls, which are said to be more energy efficient; the use of a special window insulation product, Blauegelb 16, said to improve insulation and conserve energy, and the integration of a new ventilation system, air source heat pumps and solar panels.

Nick MacDonald-Smith, net zero carbon lead at NHS Property Services commented that the refurbishments are “a great example of our commitment to sustainable healthcare” and “by incorporating advanced technologies and design principles, we’ve established a facility that not only reduces its carbon footprint but also provides an optimal care environment for patients and staff.”

Mid and South Essex reveal winter healthcare plans

Senior clinicians and partners across Mid and South Essex ICS have combined efforts to develop winter healthcare plans, including increasing and reconfiguring inpatient community rehabilitation beds with the aim of supporting people requiring short-term bed-based rehabilitation services following hospital stays. In addition, the current birthing unit will be relocated.

The ICS shares hopes that the new reconfiguration plans will increase the number of beds used for stroke rehabilitation, freeing up hospital beds for patients needing urgent or emergency care.

The changes are expected to take effect in autumn 2023, in order to meet the anticipated growing demands for NHS health and care services at this time of year.

Dr Matt Sweeting, interim medical director at Mid and South Essex ICB and a consultant geriatrician, said: “This plan comes as part of comprehensive and collaborative efforts to improve healthcare facilities and resources this winter. Our main aim is to deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients in high-quality facilities.”

University Hospital Lewisham implements new approach to address urgent and emergency care needs

South East London ICS has shared information on a new approach to support urgent and emergency care from University Hospital Lewisham, which focuses on “bringing front line teams together across organisational boundaries”.

The ICS highlights how the collaborative approach has resulted in “a 10 percent reduction in hospital stays for longer than 21 days and a 30 percent reduction in people being discharged to care homes rather than their own homes”. Place executive lead for Lewisham Ceri Jacob says that “these improvements have made the journey through the hospital smoother and reduced waiting times in emergency departments.”

New healthcare hubs in Norfolk and Waveney given go ahead

NHS England has approved the establishment of two new-build healthcare facilities in King’s Lynn and Rackheath, as part of Norfolk and Waveney’s successful bid for a £25.2m capital investment in 2019 to improve and expand healthcare facilities in the local community.

In terms of design, the hubs will be “modern, accessible, digitally enabled facilities” – offering residents a wide range of health and care services and facilitating integration between primary, acute and community care services. The overall aim being to improve patient experience and “improve health outcomes for local residents.” Both buildings are expected to be ready and operational in spring/summer 2024.

It is hoped that the investment will help to safeguard the provision of local health and care services in the future, as well as meeting the current demands for services and treatment.

Health minister Helen Whately said“Alongside our plans to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 we are also upgrading over 70 hospitals across the country, and these new facilities in King’s Lynn and Rackheath will help meet demand in the region and serve thousands more patients. This approach will cut waiting times in the region – one of our top five priorities – and offer patients the highest quality care when and where they need it.”

New community diagnostic centre set to open in Cornwall

As part of regional efforts to help the NHS deliver care “closer to home”, Cornwall ICS has announced that a new community diagnostic centre will be opening in Redruth, offering local people access to a range of tests during a single visit.

The centre in Redruth will be one of five new community diagnostic centres across the South West and will include CT and MRI scans, ultrasound scans, endoscopy and x-rays . The ICS shares that the new facilities could potentially help them in delivering an extra 74,000 diagnostic tests a year when fully operational.

The location of the centre has been selected to support access for communities, and forms part of the larger diagnostic strategy to create localised services which will allow acute hospitals to focus on urgent and emergency care.