IT’S all systems go as construction has finally started on Havant’s new community hospital.
Work began yesterday on building the £3.7m facility in Lavant Drive.
GPs and senior officials from NHS Hampshire were jubilant as they gathered to mark the beginning of the work.
It comes after years of waiting for the people of Havant and Waterlooville as the initial plans for a single, large hospital were shelved due to lack of money.
The new scheme will involve transforming the Oak Park Children’s Centre – a £4m facility that opened in 2006 – and building a campus of healthcare facilities.
A new extension will be built and the building’s interior – currently only 20 per cent of which is used for clinical purposes – will be refurbished.
The new facility, to be called Oak Park Community Clinic, will cater for Havant, Waterlooville and East Hampshire and is set to open in December next year.
Inger Hebden, director of capital planning at NHS Hampshire, has guided the project from the beginning and was all smiles yesterday.
She said: ‘It’s a triumph over adversity and disappointment to come to something that meets the original aims of the project but in a completely different way than we would have expected.
‘Other people have said to me there are elements of this that will be more flexible and sustainable in the future than a single hospital.’
Dr Michael Johns, a representative for GPs across Havant and Waterlooville, said: ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a wide range of services both for mental and physical health across the whole age spectrum. It’s got a bit of everything.’
Dr Johns said the big advantage of the project was so many services are located on one site.
It will include outpatient clinics to cater for up to 24,000 people a year and diagnostics, such as X-ray and MRI, for up to 26,000 patients.
There will be a new rapid assessment unit, which will move from its current home at Havant Health Centre.
In a joint project with Hampshire County Council, a 60-bed nursing centre will be built to cater for the elderly.
Mrs Hebden added: ‘It’s taken quite a long time to get here.
‘It’s one of those situations where there’s a lot to do.
‘I would like to thank all the teams involved.
‘There’s an awful lot of clinicians, NHS staff and local people who have contributed to getting to this stage today.’