First look at Derry’s £70m Cityside Health Hub at Fort George as project land secured

The Western Trust today welcomed the decision by the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to sell it part of the Fort George site for a huge cityside health hub.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 12:00 am

This will now facilitate plans for the Cityside Health and Care Centre at Fort George, bringing together GP and associated healthcare services into one major centre in the west bank for the first time.

Today’s news follows the recent Department of Health 1st stage approval of the Outline Business Case for £5.4m of a potential £70m investment by the Trust at this city side location.

Both decisions now allow the Trust to progress site acquisition for the necessary parcel of land at Fort George and agreements on other relevant planning aspects to ensure progression of detailed design and preparation of tender documents.

Early artist impressions of the proposed Cityside Health and Care Centre at Fort George.

On completion the development will see the relocation of approximately 450 existing posts, which will further enhance the co-location of GP and Trust multi-disciplinary teams including nursing, social work, allied health professional, mental health and administrative posts, and with a further 250 newly created posts being centred at this location.

The new centre will also enable both Trust and GP Medical Practices to expand and enhance local medical and social care service needs currently delivered from existing constricted and widely dispersed accommodation throughout the City.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has agreed that Fort George can be the location of the new Health and Care Centre in Derry.

The Fort George site is owned by the Department for Communities (DfC).

Early artist impressions of the proposed Cityside Health and Care Centre at Fort George.

After an Expression of Interest exercise, DfC entered an agreement with the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) so that they could further develop their proposal for the Health and Care Centre to be located on the site.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “Fort George is a strategic regeneration site that has huge potential to create real social and economic benefits for the City of Derry and beyond.

“I am delighted to announce that I have agreed to provide part of the site to the Western Health and Social Care Trust for their Health and Care Centre. My Department is committed to maximising Fort George’s potential and is delighted to work with the Trust to accommodate this ambitious development which will deliver key health services to the community in Derry.”

The development of a Cityside Health and Care Centre is anticipated to create 250 new permanent jobs as well as centralising approximately 450 posts in a modern state of the art facility. The positions will include nursing, social work, allied health professional and administrative roles as well as the relocation of a number of GP surgeries.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “This is an important step towards ensuring the delivery of high quality integrated primary and community care services within the city-side of Londonderry, and also towards improving the health service infrastructure within Northern Ireland. I recognise the efforts of all concerned in securing the site for this new facility and my Department will continue to support this project as it moves to the next stage.”

Mr Alan Moore, Director of Strategic Capital Development with the Western Health and Social Care Trust, (Western Trust) said: “The Western Trust welcomes the decision by the Department for Communities Minister to agree to the sale of part of the Fort George site to the Western Trust. I want to thank the Minister and her local officials with whom the Trust has worked closely over the past number of months. The announcement today will assist in facilitating plans for the Cityside Health and Care Centre at Fort George, bringing together GP and associated healthcare services in an integrated model.”

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey continued: “My Department has already started a piece of work to revise the existing Fort George masterplan. This revised masterplan will determine the location of the Health and Care Centre on the site and will also provide further clarity in relation to further potential development opportunities for the wider site in the future.”

It is expected that the WHSCT proposal will utilise around half the 11 acre Fort George site.

Speaking after the announcement Dr Anne Kilgallen Chief Executive of the Western Trust welcomed the approval by Department of Health for 1st stage of the business case and the agreement of Department for Communities to facilitate the sale of a portion of the Fort George site to the Trust.

She went on to say that “today’s news is an important first step in the development of the Cityside Health and Care Centre which will provide enhanced health care throughout the City, whilst also facilitating the wider economic development of the region through the creation of new permanent health posts and temporary construction jobs during the building of the facility”.

The Western Trust plan to complete detailed design and tender preparation within 28 months. Progression to tender and award of the construction contract will however be dependent upon a 2nd stage approval being granted by the Department of Health and affordability at that time.

The Health and Care Centre is a priority project within the Department of Health’s Primary Care Infrastructure Development (PCID) programme which is an essential element of the transformational agenda for health and social care.