Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport
I am pleased to announce that, after careful consideration, I have approved the Full Business Case for the Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC) at Llanfrechfa Grange and the release of capital funding from 2016/17 to 2021/22 to construct the hospital.
Whilst final tender costs are yet to be agreed, the SCCC represents an investment of some £350m in the creation of a modern, purpose designed hospital which will enable the provision of high quality outcomes for patients.
The SCCC forms a key part of the ambitious Clinical Futures project, launched in 2004, to modernise health services in Gwent and will create a highly specialised environment to support the treatment of patients who need complex and acute emergency care in the region.
There has been an understandably high level of public and political interest in this project. My officials worked closely with the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board as the full business case was developed. Given the significant value and complexity of the investment, the business case warranted robust scrutiny to ensure it meets the key investment criteria of health gain, equity, clinical and skills sustainability, value for money and revenue affordability.
The final report of the South Wales Programme, published in March 2014, proposed a five major acute hospital site model and included the SCCC as one of the five sites. Consolidating some complex and more acute services on one hospital site will allow the local health board to secure a range of benefits including:
- Improvements in the quality of care for patients in line with national standards, evidence and best practice;
- Support for the broad range of local services delivered through the Local General Hospitals.
- Faster access to care for patients by reducing bottlenecks in the hospital system and improving links with tertiary services;
- Specialised acute services becoming more sustainable and robust 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by developing single, integrated teams and extended working days;
- Recruitment and retention improvement in these specialist areas and support for the training and development of staff, including training our doctors of the future;
- A modern environment that optimises efficiency and effectiveness for patients, staff and visitors.
The Welsh Government has already provided significant funding support for the development of local general hospitals in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, with funding of £217m for the construction of Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr which opened in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
The SCCC has strong support in the Gwent community, among other Local Health Boards in the South Wales Programme area, from the five Gwent Borough councils, the local Community Health Council and a range of voluntary and community groups.
Today’s announcement is an important demonstration of support for the integrated model envisaged by Clinical Futures, and means that the health board can proceed with the construction of the new hospital.
The advent of the SCCC will lead to further changes at the other acute hospital sites run by ABUHB; the Royal Gwent, Nevill Hall and St.Woolos Hospitals. While they will continue to provide a wide range of acute services which can safely and sustainably be provided locally the future business cases for the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals will need to demonstrate how the system would fully achieve the clinical, workforce and efficiency benefits of this tiered model. The SCCC will bring together the more specialised services for the Gwent population. I expect the local health board to demonstrate that it will take full advantage of the opportunity provided by the SCCC to transform services within its area.
The SCCC will also have a key regional role, working as part of the wider major acute hospital system across south Wales. The South Wales Programme set out an agreed strategic direction for the future, with the SCCC as a key component working with other major acute hospitals to secure sustainable, high quality services which deliver the best possible outcomes for patients. The other acute hospitals, within ABUHB and also in other LHBs, will have an important role in supporting this strategic direction. The drive to improve care never stops, and I am determined that we plan and develop services on a regional as well as a local basis to benefit the population of south Wales as a whole.
I expect the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board to now proceed with construction and commissioning of the new hospital which is currently estimated to open in 2022. I also expect local health boards across south Wales to increase the pace of regional planning to ensure that the full benefits of this decision to support the SCCC are realised.
The Presiding Officer has agreed to amend tomorrow’s plenary agenda to enable me to make an Oral Statement on this.