Royal visit marks opening of uniquely funded project

23rd September 2013

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HRH The Earl of Wessex has officially opened the new £32m St Catherine’s Health Centre in Birkenhead.

HRH The Earl of Wessex has officially opened the new £32m St Catherine’s Health Centre in Birkenhead, a project delivered using Prime plc’s funding model, a first for healthcare investment.

Devised by Prime, the Shared Investment Agreement (SIA) between NHS Wirral and Prime enabled the trust to contribute 55% of the capital cost of the development, with the remaining 45% of funding raised by Prime. While this type of shared-ownership model is common in other areas of property investment, such as retail, it is a breakthrough for the healthcare sector and opens up attractive future opportunities for investment in alternative assets.

The landmark four-storey 11,100 sqm centre was designed by One Creative Environments Ltd and constructed by IHP (a joint venture between VINCI Construction UK and Sir Robert McAlpine) under ProCure 21.

Leighton Chumbley, Group Managing Director for Prime plc, comments: “It’s immensely satisfying to see the pride generated by the visit for these new facilities which Prime played a key part in delivering.

“Our experience as a skilled, cohesive team paid dividends on this project. Working closely with the other partners, we were able to deliver financial close on St Catherine’s in just 12 weeks. This understanding of the sector combined with our funder relationships means we were able to put together a robust, credible deal attractive to both the trust and investors. St Catherine’s is a true example of using what capital is available, sharing risk, benefiting the balance sheet and helping authorities to deliver essential services sooner.”

Over the last three years, the development of the new health centre has transformed the site of the former Victorian St Catherine’s Hospital into a modern, award winning state of the art healthcare facility that now hosts two GP practices, a late night pharmacy and range of community based NHS services including Sexual Health Wirral, Wirral Drugs Service and a range of outpatient clinics.

During the visit Prince Edward met staff and patients in Wirral Heart Support and Physiotherapy services that operate from the centre and met representatives from the local community. He also unveiled a plaque to commemorate the official opening.

Addressing an audience of staff, patients and the project team, HRH The Earl of Wessex said: “This is a fantastic new building and it’s terrific to see so many different services going on in here for the community. I trust it will be extremely well used in the future and I wish you all the best of luck.”

Matt Tebbatt, Director of Architecture for One Creative Environments Ltd said: “It’s been very rewarding to see the obvious delight of patients and staff in their new facility. The design of St Catherine’s Health Centre firmly connects it to the site’s history, as well as its future. Curving around the neighbouring historic St Catherine’s Church the centre’s five individual wings are linked together with a central airy ‘street’ whilst the ‘DNA’ inspired exterior looks to the future of modern healthcare in Tranmere.”

Chris Hamer, Managing Director, IHP, Building Division – North, said: “We focused on community and patient needs to build a one of a kind healthcare facility for the people of Birkenhead, and it is great to see the building come to life. 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.”

Frances Street, Chairman of Wirral Community NHS Trust concluded: “It is a pleasure to introduce HRH The Earl of Wessex to our fantastic building, to our staff and to our patients. St Catherine’s Health Centre is a key part of the regeneration of the area and will help to ensure that Wirral residents can receive a wide range of outstanding locally based healthcare without the need to attend hospital.”

Images courtesy of Wirral Community NHS Trust.