A new healthcare hub at the Fort George site on Derry’s riverfront will bring about 500 jobs, it’s emerged.
The jobs - new and relocated - will deliver mostly nursing, social work, allied health professional and administrative roles.
The revelation follows confirmation that the Department for Communities (DfC) and the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) have entered an agreement to enable the Trust to further develop a proposal to locate a new Cityside Health and Care Centre at Fort George.
The agreement, initially for 12 months, will give the WHSCT time to get the necessary business case approvals and funding confirmed.
No further marketing of the Fort George site will take place while the viability of the proposal is being considered although this remains as a contingency option, if required.
The move follows an Expression of Interest exercise undertaken by DfC to test the appetite for investment in the Fort George site.
Paul McNaught, from the Department for Communities, said: “Fort George is a strategic regeneration site that has huge potential to create real social and economic benefits for the city.
“The Department is committed to maximising its potential and is therefore delighted to work with the Trust to explore this ambitious development which not only delivers key central Government priorities but is also in line with the Strategic Growth Plan adopted by Derry City and Strabane District Council.
“Remediation works at the site have now been completed and Outline Planning Permission is in place. The site is well placed to progress to the next step.”
Dr Bob Brown, Director of Primary Care & Older People within the Western Health and Social Care Trust, added: “The Trust is committed to the delivery of this Cityside Health and Care Centre project which is seen as a high priority for investment.
“This development will enable both Trust and GP Medical Practices to work together to further expand and enhance local health and social care services currently delivered from widely dispersed accommodation throughout the city.
“This will also facilitate the roll-out of primary care multi-disciplinary teams - a development already at pilot stage with approximately 200 posts planned for the WHSCT area. Allied to these direct health service employments, it is envisaged that the implementation of a Data City Health Analytics Project, via C-TRIC as part of the City Deal submission, will create approximately 250 additional posts initially, a proportion of which will be located at Fort George.”
The Health and Care Centre is a critical project within the Department of Health’s Primary Care Infrastructure Development (PCID) programme and is seen an essential element of the transformational agenda for health and social care.
The Expression of Interest exercise ran from September to November 2018. In total, 11 responses were received.