In July 2017 Weybridge Hospital was burnt to the ground. The hospital accomodated the two Weybridge General Practices, a “Walk-in” Centre and other services like physiotherapy. NHS Property Services acted quickly to provide a high quality temporary replacement building. Work was already underway on considering the scope of a new building. At the same time the NHS was considering the question of what kinds of primary care services should be provided across Surrey. Councillor Vicki Macleod has been working hard, on behalf of local residents, to provide quality input into these plans, and brings us all up to date below.
After nearly three years of waiting to hear how GP and core NHS primary services were to be reprovisioned in Weybridge, there is finally a great step forward and optimism that concrete plans will start to emerge.
Why has it taken so long?
Two key reasons it has taken this long are:
- the national changes brought in by the NHS on the future of urgent treatment services and lengthy NHS project timelines
- the renewal or refurbishment of Weybridge Library.
Given the location of the sites involved – opposite each other in the town centre – and the idea of a community hub, proposed by the Weybridge Society, all the authorities involved seized this as an opportunity to do something bold and imaginative with the sites and the way in which health and community services interconnect. Previously these were all located in different buildings on different town centre sites. In the future there will be mixed provision.
What sites are involved?
The key sites are what is referred to as ‘the Hospital site’ on one side of Church Street and the Library site across the road. However, current thinking has expanded into considering the wider area in which these are located and now included are Churchfields car park, the former Sure Start Centre and the Centre for the Community on Churchfield Road.
The current situation is that three separate authorities – NHS Property Services, Surrey County Council and Elmbridge Borough Council are the owners of the sites. The tradition is that they each use their sites for their own services and they rent those parts of the site they don’t occupy. This has tended not to happen in a planned way in pursuit of joint goals. A key difference in the current approach is to think strategically about the best place for services to be located and how to make co-location work to the benefit of all. Included in this thinking is how to make the most of the wonderful green spaces we have in central Weybridge and how to protect and enhance the town centre iconic heritage sites of St James Parish Church and the Old Rectory.
What services will there be?
Clearly, core NHS Primary Care services will be provided, including GP surgeries and treatment rooms. The local Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) (replacement for the North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group) are aware that they must use the need for reprovisioning primary care services after the devastating fire as an opportunity to get things right in Weybridge. The new campus will also house the Library; space for the Centre for the Community services to elderly residents and other users such as Dementia groups and the Stroke group; youth services; possibly co-working space; possibly accommodation and space for commercial use – with the hope that social entrepreneurs will want to base themselves in central Weybridge.
Who is involved in bringing this about?
SCC and the ICP have engaged an organisation with a strong track record in community projects – Well North Enterprises, led by Lord Andrew Mawson – to lead in the early stages and help get the project off the ground. Naturally there are representatives from key services and authorities, and alongside these, there are community activists, including the Weybridge Society and local borough councillors. Currently the structure for taking the project forward involves a Strategic Board / Steering Group plus two task groups – one responsible for communication and making input to the design and configuration of services and spaces, the other responsible for the business case and operational aspects of the project. Lesia Scholey of the Weybridge Society has been appointed as Project Champion and is leading on communication and community engagement.
When can we expect to hear more?
A public engagement event is planned for early February. The project team are very clear that they want to hear from people who would like to get actively involved and who have energy and commitment to offer. There is no shortage of ideas but the project will only meet its true aim of building a happier, healthier, better connected community if it engages the energy of those with the will to dig in and work. Are you up for this? Do you want to bring about a better future for Weybridge? If so, please get in touch at email@example.com
There is also a full description of the project in the Autumn/Spring edition of the of the Weybridge Society Newsletter which will be distributed soon to all households in Weybridge, or can be accessed here (https://www.weybridgesociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Magazine-Autumn-Winter-2020-min.pdf).
The project is still in search of a name. Some suggestions are:
#WellBeingWeybridge #WayBetterWeybridge #ReviveWeybridge #RenewWeybridge Please let Lesia know your thoughts, preferences and ideas by emailing her at: firstname.lastname@example.org