“Exemplar” St Catherine’s Health Centre Scoops Industry Award 27 May 2011

Overwhelming community support, a pioneering funding model and thoughtful design has seen St Catherine’s Health Centre in Wirral receive the Partnerships Bulletin award for Best Healthcare Project 2011.

On track for completion in 2013, the Procure 21 project will improve patient care, replacing a range of former workhouse and sanatorium buildings from the 1800s with modern healthcare buildings to deliver a broader range of services from the 11,100 sqm four storey centre.

Despite still being under construction, the judges described this as an “exemplar project for public sector procurement to deliver more for less” thanks to “innovative partnership working” from the team behind the development – NHS Wirral; architects and funding partner, Prime plc and contractor Integrated Health Projects, a joint venture between VINCI Construction UK and Sir Robert McAlpine.

Commenting on the award win, Doug Baker Head of Capital Projects and Premises Management, at NHS Wirral said: “The redevelopment of St Catherine’s will result in a major new hub of health for our local patient population fit for the 21st century and we are delighted to receive this award which recognises the hard work and commitment from the project team at NHS Wirral. Within the local community there is a feeling of real excitement that such an important project is being delivered for the provision of health care.”

Recognising the considerable need for upgraded facilities to serve the local patient population, NHS Wirral’s project managers had to work within a very tight timescale and budget to ensure they could get the development off the ground. Key stakeholders were involved in the project very early, including the local historic society and English Heritage. This inclusive approach has resulted in resounding support for the development from the local community.

The project has also seen the development of a new finance model, which allows for NHS capital to be combined with private finance development funds on a shared ownership basis. The new Shared Investment Agreement (SIA) enabled NHS Wirral to contribute 55% of the cost of the development, with the remaining 45% provided by Prime plc. Using this new form of property contract, which protects the assets of both parties, Prime secured funding from Aviva and has attracted strong interest in the model from other Strategic Health Authorities around the country.

Leighton Chumbley, Chief Operating Officer at Prime plc, commented: “This development demonstrates there is still an appetite from financial institutions to back public sector projects and it is great that the innovation behind St Catherine’s has been recognised at this early stage. We were very keen to partner with NHS Wirral on this project – they were clearly focussed in what they wanted to achieve and we’re proud to have played a part in helping to realise that ambition.”

The new development has been described by NHS Wirral as “major new hub of health”. Designed by Prime’s design company, One Creative Environments Ltd, the building achieves BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating and addresses the recommendations of CABE, while providing all of the requirements for a flexible building. St Catherine’s Church is central to the new development in recognition of its historical links with the original building, reflecting the desire to create a more community-centred environment through the new design.

Formerly the Public Private Finance Awards, the Partnerships Bulletin Awards recognise the very best in innovation and delivery in the public private partnership arena and were judged by a panel of top level industry professionals.

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