Turning our vision into reality | Latest news

Turning our vision into reality

Alastair Finney

If I’d been asked at the start of 2023 what my resolutions were for the year ahead, I’d have said I wanted to see work under way at the hospital to build the new multi-storey car park, alongside the Government’s agreement to our detailed business case for the new Whipps Cross Hospital itself.

Regrettably, neither of those things materialised in the last 12 months. As well as my resolutions not being fulfilled, I know that you all share some of my frustrations on the pace of progress.  The case for a new Whipps Cross is stronger than ever.  But all is not doom and gloom.

Whilst progress on the hospital business case has been slow, we did see some significant achievements in 2023 in other areas. Working increasingly closely with colleagues in Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Epping Forest District, we have strengthened our integrated approach to improving hospital and community services for local people.  This journey of ‘service transformation’ is critical. It improves the health and wellbeing of our patients and it helps us plan for the new hospital by understanding what is working well and where further improvements are needed.  Our first annual report setting out the progress of this journey was published in August 2023.

Earlier in the year, I was delighted when Barts Charity approved a multi-million pound grant for Whipps Cross to work in partnership with Queen Mary University London and the Charity to establish an Academic Centre for Healthy Ageing (ACHA).  This is a new research, education and training centre – to be hosted at Whipps Cross Hospital – that will work closely with local people and health and care staff to improve care and support for people as they grow older. This is key to us realising our long-held vision for Whipps Cross to be a place of best practice renowned for the joined-up care and treatment of older people.  Under the leadership of Lauren Ellis and the the-soon-to-be-recruited academics, I look forward to seeing ACHA begin to build some real momentum over the next 12 months.

We are nearly there on the new 500-space car park, which we have to complete before we can begin building the new hospital.  After the frustratingly long process of the national team reviewing our business case for the car park, in August we received the go ahead to identify a construction partner.  We appointed IHP (Integrated Health Partners) in the early autumn.  Since then, we’ve been working closely with IHP to develop our detailed construction plans and, subject to final approval of our plans – which we anticipate very shortly – work on site will begin this year.  At this point, I’d like to thank Natalie Firminger, for her leadership on planning these works.  The combination of her tenacity and patience has been critical to us getting to where we’ve got to.  We wish her well in her new role at the Homerton Hospital. Artist impression of the new multi-story cark park

Finally I am optimistic that, with the visible signs of construction works starting this year, by this time next year we will at last be able to point to real progress.  I’m working closely with colleagues in the national New Hospital Programme (NHP) team, and we have a shared objective of moving forward our planning for the new hospital over the coming months.  Currently, I’m negotiating with NHP a funding settlement for 2024/25 which, if agreed, would allow us to review and refresh our plans and designs from 2-3 years ago which, hopefully, would lead us to finalising our detailed business case for the new hospital before the end of this year.

I wish you all a happy and successful 2024!

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