Belper health services are to move and be provided from a new purpose-built, multi-million pound base in the town following a decision from health leaders.
NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s governing body has agreed to move services currently provided from Babington Hospital to a new facility to be built in Derwent Street.
Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust (DCHSFT) is commissioned to provide a range of services for patients from the former workhouse in Derby Road, including community therapy services, physiotherapy, podiatry, falls prevention and intermediate care.
But difficulties posed by increasing maintenance needs and limitations of Babington ageing building, and an ongoing review of Belper health services, prompted CCG leaders to consider moving existing services from Babington’s site – including Belper Clinic – to a new development closer to the centre of the town, with the exception that a new model of “bedded care” will be offered.
The decision follows months of engagement by NHS staff, which included talking to people in Belper’s streets, at the town’s farmers’ market, and households receiving information and details about how to get involved being delivered door to door, and made available in public venues across the town.
In addition to views shared face-to-face with staff, 167 people gave their opinion via a written survey.
All feedback received was considered by the CCG, and independently analysed by Healthwatch Derbyshire.
Clinical chiefs at the CCG, which plans and pays for health services, worked with professionals that support patients to develop the plans. These were shared with NHS staff and clinicians, and Belper Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) – which work with GP practices to make sure patients and carers get involved with, and influence their services.
Dr Paul Wood, practising GP and Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We made it as easy as we could for people to get involved as we wanted to hear as many views and ideas as possible.
“Patients are at the heart of services and we want to make sure high quality services are delivered from the most appropriate place.
“Unfortunately, Babington just isn’t practical for proving healthcare today and in the future.
“We want to make sure money and resources the NHS has are used in the most effective way and services and patients are prioritised, rather than buildings.
“People today are able to live longer, and the result of this is we need more long-term support for complex conditions, and we’re taking this into account as we forward plan so the right care is available.
“Ongoing care for conditions like diabetes, and heart and lung issues, more often than not, can and should be provided by a team of professionals in the community, close to patients’ homes, rather than in a particular NHS building.”
Derbyshire County Council is developing land in Derwent Street to provide 40 new residential care home beds for their service users, and create a new library for Belper.
The CCG and DCHSFT have worked with the authority to explore opportunities for providing health services from the same site. DCHSFT purchased land in Derwent Street from the county council, on the understanding it could be sold back if a decision was made to not move services to the site. The Trust currently rents the Babington site from NHS Property Services, which has owned it since 2013.
DCHSFT successfully bid for almost £6m of Department of Health money to invest in the new building.
Services will continue to be offered from the Babington site until the new Derwent Street facility is ready to house services, unless exceptional circumstances – such as flooding – make this impossible.
Dr Wood added: “CCGs are clinically led so that patient needs are at the forefront of planning, and considered by people who see them day to day, and are aware of what local health priorities should be.
“During the engagement period we heard from local GP surgeries to confirm their support.
“We wanted to be sure that the excellent patient care currently offered by professionals can continue – and that when those patients do need to receive support in an NHS building that the place they visit or stay in is appropriate and suitable for providing health care now and in the future.
“We owe it to patients and staff to carefully consider the options and focus on community support so people can carry on with their lives while getting the help they need and that keeps all types of hospital beds free to be used wisely and well for those that will benefit most from them.”
Following today’s decision Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust can begin formal processes to build a new health facility on land it has is in Derwent Street, Belper. The CCG will continue to work with health and care partners to complete an overall assessment of the bedded care provision and staffing resources within south Derbyshire, to support the new model of bedded and community care in time for the completion of the new facility.
William Jones, Chief Operating Officer for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Babington Hospital is a much-loved and iconic building in the local community, but we all know it simply isn’t fit as a facility for modern day healthcare.
“I’m delighted with today’s decision which means we can now proceed with the new build in the town centre and secure 21st century facilities for Belper’s future generations and for our brilliant staff.”
Once a successful transfer of services to the new Derwent Street building has taken place – at a date to be agreed – Babington Hospital and Belper Clinic would no longer be used as a healthcare facility by the CCG.