During the year John Harris, a member of the Hertfordshire Community Trust (HCT) Red House Project Group, took over responsibility for the Society’s Health and Welfare group from Eric Midwinter - who continues to co-chair the Red House Forum.
The main focus for the group has been the future of the Red House, through close involvement with the Red House Forum ‘ginger group’, established about six years ago. An account of the current position on the Red House development, which follows, has been produced by John on behalf of the HCT Project Group which is driving the development.
An Outline Strategic Case for the development of the new Health and Wellbeing Hub has been agreed by HCT, and an Outline Business Case (OBC) is being prepared. It is due to be presented to the HCT Board in March. Meanwhile architects have been appointed to advise on the property transactions and design.
In preparing the OBC, the Trust has actively sought to establish the detailed requirements of service providers, including local GPs, Health Authority Commissioners and local voluntary organisations. HCT has responsibility for some 60 properties across Hertfordshire and is under pressure from NHS Estates to identify any surplus land and buildings which could be sold, although the Secretary of State has the power to take 50% of any monetary gain from such sales.
It is hoped that this will not apply to a sale of land and buildings on the Red House site, as the whole of the proceeds are required to fund the new health and wellbeing facilities in the refurbished Stewarts building(above). These facilities will include a wide range of diagnostic and treatment services, a children’s centre and scope for the provision of voluntary support.
Other work of the Health and Welfare Group during 2016 has included providing feedback on NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) aimed at bringing together all the health providers ‘within county areas’.
Somewhat surprisingly, the draft of the Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes (BLMK) STP makes no mention of Luton & Dunstable (L&D) Hospital as a vital and long-standing service provider for the substantial population of around 50,000 in Harpenden and surrounding villages, across the county boundary in Hertfordshire.
Accordingly, the Society’s Health and Welfare group has responded to the BLMK plan, requesting assurance that arbitrary definition of STP county areas will have no negative impact on the currently excellent health services provided for those living in and around Harpenden at L&D Hospital. In response the Society received assurances from hospital chairman Simon Linnet - scheduled guest speaker at the Harpenden Society’s AGM in April 2017 - that it would continue to serve patients from the wider Harpenden area.