MP's visit may have helped £45m hospital upgrade

Steve Barclay at princess of wales hospital

In June, and before he became health minister, NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay paid a private visit to the Princess of Wales Hospital at Ely - Credit: Steve Barclay

Three weeks before his surprise appointment as health minister, MP Steve Barclay popped across to Ely.  

“I’m pleased to see that redevelopment plans for the Princess of Wales Hospital are moving forward,” he said afterwards. 

“The upgrade of the Princess of Wales is good news overall for the local community with the expansion of services and benefits for patient care in the area.  

“This reflects the significant extra government funding going to the NHS to help clear up Covid backlogs”. 

His visit was timed ahead of a deadline (now expired) for comments on a planning application for a four-storey car park to provide 270 parking spaces.  

“It is sure to be one of the least popular elements,” he noted. 

Three months earlier he had jointly signed with SE Cambs MP Lucy Frazer a plea to then health minister Sajid Javid to secure the £45m needed to upgrade the hospital.  

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Both MPs pointed to the urgency of need and the fact they looking to government “for support”. 

3 D visual of new entrance to POW hospital at Ely

3 D visual of new entrance to POW hospital at Ely - Credit: ECDC

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System (C&P ICS) are leading the application process and at this week’s meeting again confirmed a decision on government funding was still awaited.  

The C&P ICS says they first put forward “an expression of interest” in September 2021 in response to the Department of Health’s invitation to submit projects that could be considered for the expansion of the National New Hospitals programme.  

“The POW met all of DHSC’s primary selection criteria as a new community hospital, identified by the wider health system as a priority project and with a locally approved outline business case,” ICS board members were told.  

“As far as we are aware, there has been no formal response from DHSC to more than 125 expressions of interest that were submitted by NHS trusts and we continue to wait to hear whether POW will be funded as part of the New Hospital Programme”. 

C&P ICS will find the multi storey car park from land sales and what they term “system capital”. 

New POW car park as seen from Davison Road. The visual has been provided for planners

New POW car park as seen from Davison Road. The visual has been provided for planners - Credit: ECDC

And to ensure the car park goes ahead, contracts have exchanged with neighbouring landowner, Palace Green Homes and a land swap is imminent. 

The board was told that The Princess of Wales site is also the C&P ICS’ choice as the location for the East Cambridgeshire & Fenland Community Diagnostic Centre.  

“The CDC programme should provide funding that will deliver enhanced diagnostic capability within a community setting,” said the report. 

“It will accelerate part of the new hospital development” 

The POW design team is working with the CDC clinical lead from Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. 

They will begin the design process of the CDC which will be located on the ground floor of the existing theatre block.  

“The design team is also working with other services that need to be relocated in order to allow the CDC to be created,” says the report. 

These include MSK therapies, podiatry, speech & language therapy, neuro rehab, Parkinson’s & diabetes who are all engaged in the design process.  

“The CDC business case submitted on behalf of the ICS is expected to be approved by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) in July 2022, with funding to follow shortly after,” the report added.  

But there remains the risk that funding for Ely won’t necessarily happen in its entirety. 

3 D visual of new POW hospital at Ely

3 D visual of new POW hospital at Ely - Credit: ECDC

The papers presented to the C&P ICS noted there remains a risk of failing to “secure national funding for the redevelopment of Princess of Wales, Ely. 

“This which would result in the facilities and infrastructure not being upgraded and as a result impact on the quality to patient care to service users.” 

The report added: “There is a risk that the C&P ICS and trust fail to secure national funding for the redevelopment of Princess of Wales, Ely. 

“This would result in the facilities and infrastructure not being upgraded and as a result impact on the quality to patient care to service users” 

Ms Frazer says: “If approved, this funding would make possible significant upgrades to healthcare services for the people of Ely and surrounding areas, including increased levels of day surgery, as well as outpatient, diagnostic and urgent care services.” 

And Mr Barclay said after his visit: “While complex, specialist care needs to be focused in regional centres of excellence, we must continue to ensure that low risk, high volume, routine service can be delivered locally – and that those services are delivered in buildings that are fit for purpose.”