NORTH DENBIGHSHIRE COMMUNITY HOSPITAL PROJECT
The Lead Member for Health and Social Care, Councillor Elen Heaton, introduced the North Denbighshire Community Hospital Project to the Committee. The Project was to develop the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) site in Rhyl.
The Lead Member expressed the importance of the project due to the current pressures facing Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. The Project was a vital development for Denbighshire and was of top priority. Project Leaders were working closely with the Welsh Government along with working in close and continuous partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
The Integrated Health Community (IHC), Director of Operations thanked the Committee for being invited to the meeting and proceeded to present a presentation which included the following details: -
· The Capital Project was complex in provision and delivery.
· There were opportunities for the site to include additional services such as a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) through the Business Case process.
· Full Business Case (FBC) was approved for BCUHB in March 2021.
· Welsh Government confirmed in December 2021 that the project was sound and approvable, funding now needed to be identified.
· BCUHB approved an Estates Strategy in January 2023 placing the RAH project within the top 6 with a completed Full Business Case (FBC).
· In January 2023 the Welsh Government requested that the Health Board confirm that the RAH was a priority and asked it to obtain support in principle from the Regional Partnership Board (RPB). The Health Board were compiling a response.
· Once full approval for funding was given, the project would take 3 months to mobilise and 31 months for the construction phase to complete.
The IHC Director explained that for every development there was a detailed process that needed to be followed within the Health Board. Although this had been a lengthy process, it had given the Health Board the opportunity to ensure that it was accurate, including several additional services of importance to be offered at the RAH site.
The approval process was explained to the Committee as outlined below:-
· Strategic Outline Case
· Outline Business Case
· Full Business Case- Funding could then be agreed.
The IHC Director thanked the Council for their close partnership in aiding to deliver the project and welcomed questions from members.
A discussion between Members lead to questions being raised regarding the time that it had taken to get to this stage of the Project, and how long it would take to secure funding from the Welsh Government. Unfortunately, the IHC Director advised that she did not have the information however, she reassured the Committee that there would be a continued line of communication going forward.
Councillor Martyn Hogg expressed some concerns regarding understanding the approval process and the steps involved at each stage. He questioned if there was a flow chart that could be given to illustrate this and to support members’ understanding of the process. The IHC Director confirmed that there would be a flow chart that detailed the stages of the approval process as stated above. She continued to explain that there was a circuitous route for each of the stages outlined which afforded for questions to be asked. The current stage of the project was that questions had been asked by the Welsh Government of which needed to be responded to, this would then form part of the finalisation of the Business Case which would lead to funding being agreed. Over the coming weeks the IHC Director was hopeful that they would be in the position where they had responded to the Welsh Government, and this would then facilitate the final decision to be made.
Queries were raised around what the Royal Alexandra Hospital would look like once the construction was completed and what services had been agreed to operate from the site. The Joint Interim Head of Community Support Services stated that a Full Business Case had previously been shared. This indicated the Services that would be provided, including illustrations of the hospital once completed, however he would ensure that the information was shared again with Members of the Committee.
Members questioned if there was an opportunity for the Welsh Government to be scrutinised over their decision making process, for example how the Council and the Health Board could ensure that the project was continually moving forward to the next stages. The IHC Director clarified that they had been through a process with the Estates Strategy, and it was assumed that this enabled continuous conversations with the Government and the Health Board.
Final comments were made by Members regarding the length of time that it had taken for the project to get to its current stage. Many local community hospitals in Denbighshire were closed many years ago on the promise that this facility would be a replacement.
The Chair thanked the Officers for their update and welcomed a further update at the Partnerships Scrutiny Committee meeting which would be held in September 2023.
At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee:
Resolved: - subject to the above observations and the provision of the additional information –
(i) to receive the information provided as part of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Development Project Update presentation; and
(ii) to request that a further progress report on all aspects of the Project’s development be presented to the Committee at its September 2023 meeting.
At this juncture, as the Committee was ahead of schedule, the Committee agreed with the Chair’s proposal to vary the order of business and bring forward the Scrutiny Work Programme item.