A new hospital built from scratch offers the best return on investment, delegates heard at an online meeting about the new Royal Berkshire Hospital.
Ali Foster, programme director for the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, told a July 12 meeting of stakeholders that the trust is putting the case to Government that a new building offers long term value.
Based on 2020 calculations, the trust has two options for rebuilding on the current site. One would cost £750 million, the other £990m. Relocation was priced at £1.3bn.
Ali said: “The new hospital programme is making the case that it’s far better to invest more upfront because over the lifecycle of the hospital of 50 years, the return on investment is unquestionable.
“You can build a hospital much easier and make it fit for the future if you start from scratch.
“But, of course, the outlay at the beginning is much more expensive. If they give us the £750m envelope which would be what our lowest request was, we are now looking to see if we could build something for £750m, brand new, at a different site.”
That, she said, could include making better use of satellite sites and using the Health on the High Street concept, where services are offered in well-connected town centres.
She went on: “Is there anything we could put in Reading town centre with ready-made transport links? It might help regenerate the town centre after Covid by having people in, and footfall going through, the town centre, and other Health on the High Street areas in other parts of our patch.”
One option could be to have the outpatients department in the town centre but she said staffing could be made difficult since the same staff members would need to staff it, leading to the need to travel between the main site and the town centre site.
However she said the 2020 costings would be affected by inflation and new guidelines in which new hospitals are expected to offer 100 per cent single occupancy rooms with a few exceptions for ICU and high dependency wards.
Ali reported that the biggest concern among the public regarding a possible new site is patient access.
Whichever option is chosen, an eight-year building programme is set to start in 2025.
The meeting can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igrX_fnMKik
Image: Andrew Smith / Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading
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