£600m proposals were first unveiled 18 months ago to transform healthcare in west Wales. The Arch project has now progressed and will shortly go to Welsh Government for consideration.
Health bosses warned that the NHS in the south West could not continue to operate the way it has done for the past 70 years and new solutions need to be created to alleviate the “huge pressure” on services.
Swansea University and two health boards are due to submit the £600m plans for remodelling healthcare. Part of the scheme is a £225m “wellness” village near Llanelli. Situated near the coast it would incorporate life science research, health facilities, care home and assisted living plus sport and leisure.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (ABMU) and Hwyel Dda health boards which alone care for one million people, are working in a “totally unique” partnership with Swansea University.
Professor Hamish Lang, Medical Director, ABMU health board, says:
“There has been too much of a piecemeal approach to change (in the NHS) over the years. We knew what we’ve wanted to do – just didn’t have the mechanisms to do it.”
Prof Laing added:
“The NHS in south west Wales is under a huge pressure, a lot of financial pressure and workload pressure. We see Arch as our way of planning our way out of that – to address the primary problems, not just a sticking plaster.”
Swansea’s largest hospital, Morriston, will be prioritising the care of extremely sick patients and will also be expanded.
Singleton Hospital, Swansea, will become a centre of excellence with its health and well-being academy, focussing on out of hospital care, diagnostics and day cases.
A life science research campus will be constructed on land situated next to the hospital grounds. The objective being to engage medical technology firms as well as home-grown and interactional firms. The aim is to connect these organisations with west Wales as an “ideal test bed” for a collaboration research programme with the NHS. This would save the issue of staff having to be shared across the two Swansea hospital sites.
Councillor Meryl Gravell, executive member for regeneration and on the board of Arch, said;
“It was originally going to be just a leisure centre but they wanted to do much more and look at health in the round”.
She continues: “We cannot go back to silo mentality. It’s not just about austerity, this makes sense, this is what we should be doing, working together. The impact is going to be huge and I think this is a world first.”
Bernardine Rees, chairman of Hywel Dda health board, hopes Arch will offer opportunities to address serious recruitment issues of medical staff in west Wales – with the idea of cutting edge healthcare and research taking place in rural as well as urban areas.
At present, a vast amount of expenditure on consultants is attributed temporary staff.
Ms Rees Said:
“It’s no longer the geography of the place which attracts young, mobile consultants, it’s about the ability to offer research and development, enable them to be innovative and to work with other professionals. It’s no longer the geography of the place which attracts young, mobile consultants, it’s about the ability to offer research and development, enable them to be innovative and to work with other professionals.”
The concept has been described as a “world first” and will amalgamate several services promoting healthier lives and providing care closer to patient’s homes.