Landmark project completes in Birkenhead 14 August 2013

The final phase of St Catherine’s Health Centre in Birkenhead has completed this week, ensuring local people will benefit from some of the best healthcare facilities in the UK for decades to come.

In addition to GP facilities, St Catherine’s brings together a range of Wirral Community NHS Trust and other NHS healthcare services as well as independent and voluntary sector agencies. They include physiotherapy, minor injuries and X-Ray, Wirral Drugs Service and the Wirral Heart Support charity.

While an increasing number of services have been operating from the centre since August, the final phase has seen the demolition of the remaining old buildings on site alongside the creation of new public spaces and outdoor areas that will benefit patients directly. There is a dedicated area for physiotherapy and gentle exercise, a quiet courtyard with informal seating providing a retreat for staff and patients, while a children’s courtyard ensures fun with colourful play surfaces and bright planting.

The £32million development has already had a massive impact on the local community, having kick-started a regeneration of the surrounding area. A new ‘streetscape’ has been created, while the existing grade II listed St Catherine’s Church is now far more accessible. The imaginative scheme has already scooped a top industry award for its ‘thoughtful design, overwhelming community support and a pioneering funding model.’

The 11,100 sqm, four-storey building, dubbed ‘the smile’ by the architects for the way it naturally curves around St Catherine’s Church, was commissioned by NHS Wirral in the grounds of the existing eight-acre St Catherine’s Hospital site. The landmark project has been delivered by an innovative partnership comprising Prime Plc, One Creative Environments Ltd and IHP, a joint venture between VINCI Construction UK and Sir Robert McAlpine. It has also included the input of a number of other local organisations such as the Birkenhead Historical Society, making this a truly community focused project.

Leighton Chumbley, Group Managing Director for Prime plc, comments: “The completion of St Catherine’s Health Centre has generated real excitement in the area and we are extremely happy to have played our part in bringing this state-of-the-art facility to fruition. It has undoubtedly transformed not just healthcare but the whole patient experience in Birkenhead and the surrounding area.”

Simon Gilby, Chief Executive, Wirral Community NHS Trust, said “Wirral Community NHS Trust is really proud to be part of this exciting development. St Catherine’s now provides a modern and well equipped healthcare facility. It enables us to provide high quality healthcare in the heart of our community, helping people to receive the treatment and support they need and without having to go into hospital.”

Chris Hamer, Managing Director, IHP, Building Division – North, said: “We focused on community and patient needs to build a landmark facility and one stop shop for healthcare. This award-winning project was successfully delivered by a unique partnership between the Trust, Prime, One and IHP and I look forward to working with the team in the future.”

Matt Tebbatt, Director of Architecture for One Creative Environments Ltd concluded: “St Catherine’s Health Centre is a great example of how masterplanning and architecture can regenerate an area, making a real difference to people’s lives. Taking into consideration the type of land, the surrounding buildings and ease of access has allowed us to design and build a new health centre that will benefit the community for years to come.”

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