WALLS have been broken to mark the start of a year-long project to create a new £10.3m city health hub.
Health bosses, wielding sledgehammers, thumped through the first wall of the former children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital as part of a ground breaking ceremony.
The facility is due to be transformed into a new health centre, bringing services from St James’ Hospital to the Milton site.
Sue Harriman, chief executive of Solent NHS Trust, took part in the ceremony and said the redevelopment would be an exciting new addition for Portsmouth.
She hoped the new base would be able to relieve the strain at Queen Alexandra Hospital by offering a range of community health services closer to the city centre.
She said: ‘This is going to be an asset for the city that we’re really going to be able to use to its best.
‘Everybody in the city has great affection in the building – I had my own daughter here 20 years ago – so I think it’s great we’re able to invest in it an create an exciting future.’
The development work comes after Solent was given £10.3m from the Department of Health and Social Care.
It will create a new ‘dementia-friendly’ ward for older people in Block B.
A physiotherapy department and out-patients therapies will move from St James’ Hospital, while mental health services will remain at St James’s.
A new pharmacy will also be based at St Mary’s, while Block C will eventually become a research centre.
Andrew Strevens, deputy chief executive and director of finance, performance and estates at Solent, said the new hub would be a vital addition to the city.
‘It’s been a facility which hasn't been as well-used as it could have been,’ he said. ‘This is an opportunity to revitalise it and bring a state-of-the-art facility to Portsmouth.’
The development is expected to help save Solent £1.7m through efficiencies – cash will be pumped back into the city’s health other health facilities.
Services at St Mary’s won’t be disrupted while construction takes place, project manager Mark Maffey said.
The new hub is due to open by October 2019.