Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) is looking to develop the East Brighton ‘Brighton General’ site into a state-of-the-art Community Health Hub for patients from across Sussex.

The Brighton General site, which is owned by the Trust, was originally built as a workhouse in the 1850s. It became a general hospital in 1948 but by 2009 the wards no longer met the relevant standards and there has not been a hospital on the site since then.

This development project gives us an exciting opportunity to redesign the site in a way that makes sense for our patients, their carers and our staff and brings our buildings and facilities up to the standard we want and need to truly provide 21st century care.

The scope for development has a much broader remit than just renovating or replacing old buildings. SCFT is working with other physical and mental health care providers to explore other opportunities that could allow us to add to and modernise existing services. For example, we will explore with local commissioners and local people, what additional services could be provided from the site.

The site covers an area of just over four hectares - equivalent in size to four football pitches - in east Brighton at the top of Elm Grove by Brighton Racecourse.

The site currently houses a range of community, mental health, rehabilitation and outpatient services. It also accommodates a number of health service administrative and support staff. Much of the estate is used for offices or team bases for staff working in the community.

Services

Provider/s

A number of children’s physical and mental health, and social care services.

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Brighton & Hove City Council

Adult Podiatry, Speech and Language Therapy, Osteoporosis and Falls Prevention, Occupational Health

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

The Sussex Rehabilitation Centre

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

Physiotherapy, Dermatology, Hand Therapy

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust

Adult Mental Health Services

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Various Clinical Admin/Support Teams, including Trust HQ

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

Various non-Clinical Admin/Support Teams

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

Finance Team

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust

Hilltop Nursery

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

The current buildings are no longer fit for the delivery of modern health and care services. Many buildings are decaying badly, are damp and provide inflexible layouts originally designed for Victorian workhouse buildings. Feedback from patients and service users has told us that clinical areas are fragmented, the site is difficult to navigate and that the overall environment is not welcoming. Buildings are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain as they age, diverting funds from our budget that we would much rather spend on frontline NHS service delivery and patient care.

A number of buildings have deteriorated so badly they have to be left empty for many years and those that are occupied are under-used. Overall the site is approximately 50% utilised.

The first phase of the project is simply about looking at the various options for how the site could be organised in the future, and deciding which one works best for everyone involved.

The Trust has appointed a consortium led by Rider Levett Bucknell (RLB) to undertake an assessment of the services currently located on the site and what those services need, in terms of space and facilities, now and into the future. The next stage in the process is forthe Trust to draw up a costed plan known as a ‘business case’ with a series of four options for consideration. This will include a ‘do nothing’ option and a ‘do minimum’ option, in order for The Trust to understand the full impact of any changes that are planned.

The SCFT Board will make a decision based on which option to take forward, based on the results of the work of the RLB consortium which will include views put forward by staff who work on the site, patients and local people. This will be put forward as part of a formal document known as an ‘Outline Business Case’ which needs to be approved by the national NHS Improvement organisation.

This is a highly complex programme of work and nothing is going to change in the immediate future but our intention is to move forward with as much pace as is realistically possible to deliver a modern and flexible healthcare facility.

The aim is to deliver a project that is cash neutral i.e. the money made from the sale of any land/assets will cover the cost of the development of a new Community Health Hub.

Staff

Assessors have already been speaking to representatives of all clinical services provided on the site about what their services may need, in terms of space and facilities, now and into the future.

Wider communication and engagement with all staff who work from or are based at the site will continue throughout the project.

Staff have been invited to join the first of a number of planned project briefings.

For those who can’t make it on these events, a film of the briefing will be shared via the staff intranet – and there will be many more opportunities for staff to ask questions and give feedback, including a staff survey early in 2018.

Patients

A Patient Forum is being established for the duration of the project through which patients and carers can give their views. In addition, wider communication and engagement with patients and carers who use services currently provided from the site will continue throughout the project using a variety of new and existing mechanisms, including open meetings, written and online updates and surveys, social media and the Trust’s website.

Public

The launch of a public survey, asking for the views of patients, carers and the wider local community, will be publicised in clinics and waiting areas on the Brighton General site, in local media and on the Trust’s website in early 2018.