May 19, 2019 Last Updated 8:31 AM, Apr 10, 2019

Community care facilities join forces

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The NHS Five Year Forward View, with its focus on breaking down barriers in care and bringing services closer to communities, is an ambitious vision for change, but one that has already been made into a reality on a former hospital site in Wimbledon, South West London.


The new Nelson Health Centre opened its doors on 1st April this year, with much celebration from professionals and residents alike, two years to the day after construction work had begun on the site of the old Nelson Hospital.

Facilitated by Community Health Partnerships (CHP), and conceived and delivered through a partnership between NHS Merton CCG and PPP South London Health Partnerships Ltd, the £14m facility has greatly improved the accessibility of a range of health care services for local residents. By offering integrated primary, acute and community care services, the state-of-the-art centre is set to help reduce unnecessary trips to hospital, as those who previously travelled to St George’s Hospital, over three miles away, can now access a range of outpatient and diagnostic services locally.

Dr Andrew Murray, Chair of NHS Merton CCG, said: “When we were planning the development, we really wanted to focus on offering residents high quality, seamless care from hospital to home, with the patient at the heart of it all. We worked really hard to develop the right mix of on-site services to help people understand and manage their own conditions, as well as treating new conditions.”

21st century buildings

The new centre has been built on the site of the old Nelson Hospital (originally opened in 1912) but, although similar in size to the previous building, it has an entirely new configuration, designed to accommodate a more integrated set of health services, tailored according to the needs of the local population and befitting a 21st Century NHS.

At the heart of the primary care service delivery, two local GP practices – The Cannon Hill Lane Medical Practice and The Church Lane Practice – have combined to form a single hub, The Nelson Medical Practice, that unites the best of both surgeries have to offer.

Dr Caroline Toyn, GP at the Nelson Medical Practice said: “The new centre has allowed the two practices to join forces and work more collaboratively. In addition, the modern design of the building makes our clinics more accessible, which helps us to maintain the highest possible quality of care for our patients.”

Integrating multiple services

In October 2014, after a competitive tender process, the CCG appointed St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as specialist service provider for the centre, providing consultation and diagnostic services, and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to provide ophthalmology outpatient services.

St George’s outpatient clinics at the new centre include rheumatology, orthopaedics and cardiology alongside a range of diagnostic tests such as ultrasound, endoscopy and x-ray, while South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust are providing community health services including an older peoples’ memory clinic and an eating disorders unit.

Miles Scott, Chief Executive of St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Primary and community care is at the heart of the modern NHS and delivering services at the Nelson Health Centre will support St George’s vision of closing the gap between hospital and home. We look forward to working with Merton CCG to deliver improved outcomes for all our patients who receive healthcare in a community setting.”

Other services delivered in the new facility include Musculoskeletal (MSK) clinics led by Sutton and Merton Community Services, and outpatient physiotherapy and podiatry and Holistic and Rapid Investigation services (HARI), which has a new remit to support a wider age group, catering for complex needs and diabetic eye screening.

Utilising technology

Nelson Health Centre also houses community pharmacy services and is the new home of the Merton Recovery and Support Team. The Nelson Medical Practice, located at the centre, uses text messaging to remind patients of upcoming appointments. Whether a patient has arrived to see their GP or for a referral, they can use any of the check-in screens around the building, since they operate on a fully integrated system. Each kiosk provides appropriate directions for the patient, depending on where they check-in. All receptions, irrespective of who they work for, are set-up to help anyone coming into the building.

Merton CCG led on the planning of the clinical services at the facility and worked with the appointed service providers to equip and prepare the building for opening its doors to patients.

A blueprint for healthcare

When the construction and fit-out of the new Nelson Health Centre were completed in January 2015, responsibility for the building was passed from South London Health Partnership to Community Health Partnerships, who is now managing the facility as head tenant.

Antek Lejk, Executive Director at Community Health Partnerships said: “The development of the Nelson is a testament to the benefits that can be reaped from a thorough and practical review and refresh of existing health and social care needs, services and estate.

“We are proud to have supported the local health economy, addressing both financial and clinical challenges by working with key partners to align the estate with new service delivery models.”

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