A state-of-the-art healthcare hub could be created on part of a civic centre car park as part of a pioneering town hall plan to improve public services.

In a bid to make best use of its land and improve the quality of care received by patients, Worthing Borough Council is developing a proposal to create a one-stop hub on part of the town hall car park in Stoke Abbott Road.

The £18.5 million plan could see brand new facilities providing primary care, such as GP surgeries, alongside community care services, which includes mental health provision, social care and clinical nurses.

The hope is that by bringing seven of the town’s current health providers together on one site would save the taxpayer money, by replacing outdated facilities which are increasingly becoming unsustainable to run; while ensuring that patients receive a better standard of care.

Councillors agreed to push ahead with the plan after a discussion at a key town hall meeting this week. The hope is that work could start on site by 2019. Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said:

“It’s no secret that the UK’s population is getting older which means that there is an increasing demand for services, something our local NHS is not always able to meet.

“This pioneering plans has to potential to ensure that residents receive top quality care in modern facilities – and all while making best use of public resources. It truly is a win-win for the whole of Worthing.”

The plan was given initial backing by councillors in December 2016, who released funding received through the Cabinet Office’s One Public Estate programme. Since then officers have been working with partners in the NHS and the community to investigate the feasibility of a proposed development. That study, made public this week, showed that existing NHS services are distributed and fragmented across multiple sites and buildings throughout Worthing. It went on to say that bringing them together would deliver “significant operational efficiencies” and allow the NHS to supporting new models of care at a time when local population and health needs continue to grow.

The findings were presented to councillors on the Adur & Worthing Councils’ Joint Strategic Committee (JSC) this week. The report proposed that a new facility could comprise of:

  • two large GP practices co-located from three existing premises in Worthing;
  • a range of Community Health services by Sussex Community Foundation Trust, including those relocated from Central Clinic in Worthing;
  • a range of Mental Health services by Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust, including those relocated / co-located from at least six existing sites in Worthing;
  • Accommodation for Community Nursing teams, Social Care teams and Services management & administration teams;
  • Staff and Patient amenities, including a cafe and on-site undercroft car parking provision;
  • A Pharmacy

Councillors were told a key criteria for NHS organisations investing in new premises is that the cost does not exceed the amount spent on existing buildings. Work is ongoing to ensure this will be delivered. Concerns raised by councillors about a loss of car parking in the town centre will also be addressed as part of a wider review of spaces, which is currently ongoing.

JSC members agreed to release £64,343 of One Public Estate money to further develop the project. Councillors also approved allocating £262,000 of future one-off investment towards getting the scheme off the ground. Details of the progress will be reported back to the committee in the new year.