The focus of the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme is replacing the old and inadequate buildings on the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital sites, as well as investing in Furness General Hospital because of its geographically remote location. However, these plans are part of a wider strategy to develop and transform the way the NHS works across the whole of our region.
Lancashire and South Cumbria has a population of 1.8 million people across many diverse communities. These range from densely populated urban areas to extremely rural communities, which are remote and can be hard to reach.
The challenging geography of our region means access to services and ease of travel varies widely and local solutions are needed to make sure everyone can receive the care they need. The population of the region is also ageing, with the number of people aged over 65 projected to rise by 22% by 2030.
Some parts of our region have significant economic problems and deprivation which affect life chances, negatively impact on health, and reduce life expectancy. Overall, 20% of our population live in England’s 10% most deprived communities.
There is a proven link between these factors and demands on the NHS, with our region facing a greater burden of mental and physical ill-health than the average for England.
The Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership is made up of five Integrated Care Partnerships, covering Morecambe Bay, Fylde Coast, West Lancashire, Central Lancashire and Pennine Lancashire.
These organisations are already working together with a common approach to improving healthcare services across the region, and each feeds into a network of over 200 GP practices.
The New Hospitals Programme will ensure the new buildings we put in place are completely integrated with local delivery of primary care, using advanced technology and sharing resources and information. This common network, accessible to all NHS organisations, is critical to the delivery of better outcomes for local people across the region.
While the New Hospitals Programme’s priority is to tackle the risks posed by the ageing buildings at Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital, as well as sustainability concerns with regards to Furness General Hospital, all the plans are based on far greater collaboration across the region.
This will bring together the new and improved buildings and integrate them with the other key facilities providing hospital care across our region.
Together, our hospitals are some of Lancashire and South Cumbria’s most important assets, employing 40,000 people, making a key contribution to the local economy as well and meeting the healthcare needs of local people.
By integrating services and working more closely together, breaking down boundaries between hospitals and primary and community care, we can develop new ways to help local people live longer, healthier lives, with access to some of the best hospitals, health centres and support services anywhere in the country. Find out more about this vision in the New Hospitals Programme Case for Change.
Some highly specialised services are best delivered in a small number of centres with a concentration of expertise and purpose-designed facilities.
In Lancashire and South Cumbria, we have already established our own Major Trauma Network, with a specialist Major Trauma Centre at Royal Preston Hospital, serving patients from across the region. Data shows that taking critically ill patients to this type of specialist centre improves survival rates and overall health outcomes.
The New Hospitals Programme offers the chance to look at other specialised services in Lancashire and South Cumbria and consider new models for how these are delivered, with greater integration between hospitals and the possibility of greater choice of healthcare services closer to home.
There is also an opportunity to look at the specialised services for which Lancashire and South Cumbria patients must currently travel outside the region, and see if there are opportunities, with the right expertise in place, to provide these within our region.
While Lancashire and South Cumbria has a good track record in training and research, we risk falling behind because it is increasingly difficult to compete with the facilities of newer buildings, many outside this region. Creating new facilities with purpose-built space for research close to clinical areas will give us the best chance to address this.
Read our New Hospitals Programme Case for Change and find out how we want to build a new integrated future for health services across Lancashire and South Cumbria, and how this will deliver the ambitions of helping local people live longer, healthier lives.
We are encouraging people to provide their views. Capturing your voice is an important part of the process and your comments on our longlist of proposals are warmly welcomed.
Healthwatch Together is now visiting towns and cities around the region to hear your views about proposals for new hospital facilities in Lancashire and South Cumbria.
To be part of the conversation and to keep up to date on all the latest news and updates, start by registering for our email newsletter today.
© 2021 Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme.