City will have to wait for £40m health hubs

HEALTH Minister Edwin Poots says the people of Londonderry may have to wait for two new ‘hub and spoke’ GP health centres in the Waterside and Cityside.

Edwin Poots.
Edwin Poots.
Edwin Poots.

However, if and when they are given the green light it appears they may cost approximately £40m each and be funded through a private finance initiative known as Third Party Development (3PD).

Before Christmas Mr Poots suggested Londonderry will not get the proposed ‘hub and spoke’ health centres for another decade at least unless private backers come in to build them.

Now he has said the availability of funding is key but pointed to two new health centres in Lisburn and Newry as examples of hubs that are to go ahead.

He told Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin: “You will be aware that I have just announced that two new Health and Care Centres are to be built in Lisburn and Newry.

“Future Health and Care Centres across Northern Ireland will proceed based on a prioritisation process in light of budgetary constraints. The Health Infrastructure Board will continue to provide me with advice on this area of work.

“Any future investment decisions will be subject to the normal business case approval process and availability of funding.”

Mr Poots said the Lisburn and Newry facilities will cost £40m each and will be funded through private finance.

The Department of Health (DHSSPS) says “3PD is a method through which a facility is built and operated by a private sector company which provides the up-front capital. The facility is then leased on a long term arrangement to the user.”

Mr Poots also told Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan: “My plan is for a further roll-out of Health and Care Centres across Northern Ireland.

“Decisions on when each one will happen will have to take into account the available budget, both capital and revenue, and will be subject to the normal business case approval process and availability of funding.”

If services at the Londonderry facilities are eventually like those in Newry and Lisburn they will include: diagnostic services; imaging; district nursing/specialist nurses; health visiting; older people services; children services; mental health services; ICATS; community dentistry; Allied Health Professionals - physiotherapy, podiatry, outpatient Clinics; one stop assessment; voluntary groups.

Referring to the Lisburn and Newry facilities, HSCB chief John Compton said: “This is the first, in a planned programme of health and care centre developments which will help address the need for teams to be co-located and provide greater access to health and social care services in community settings.”