Work to build north Powys wellbeing campus 'remains on track'

Work to build the north Powys wellbeing campus in Newtown remains on track despite the Covid-19 pandemic, councillors have been told.

The site near Newtown Town Centre where the medical hub could be built
The site near Newtown Town Centre where the medical hub could be built

At their meeting on Thursday, members from both Powys County Council’s Health and Care and Learning and Skills scrutiny committee were given an update on how the project is progressing.

Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) and Powys County Council (PCC) are working together on the project.

The Park area of Newtown has been earmarked for the campus – which will bring health, social care, education, voluntary sector and even housing together in one place.

The council’s head of social services commissioning, Dylan Owen, explained the next step would be to submit a strategic outline case (SOC) to the Welsh Government “very soon.”

Mr Owen said: “If this works it will be a blueprint across the rest of the county.

“We’ve done a lot of work in the background, what the demand is and what capacity our services have.”

He added that work had taken “longer than it should have” because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen health and social care staff at the frontline of the emergency.

The emergence of coronavirus has also had an impact on the data needed to help plan the facilities.

Mr Owen added: “We are, to a degree - as with everything in health and social care at the moment - planning in the fog, and trying to understand what will be coming at us over the months and years.”

Assistant programme director, Carly Skitt of Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) told the meeting that working on the case for the campus will be dependent on staff and operational capacity, but they were still aiming at 2026.

Ms Skitt said: “The main focus is getting the SOC approved by early summer and develop the business case through the next financial year.

“Then we’ll be looking to procure our design and build contractor and develop our final business case by the end of 2025 with a view to building and opening in 2026.”

Committee chair Councillor Amanda Jenner said: “At the moment we’re being briefed rather than scrutinising the development of how this will work in practice.”

Councillor Jenner asked to see the strategic outline case “now” so that she could decide which parts of the “jigsaw” to bring in front of the committee to scrutinise.

Councillor Jenner added that it would also be good to see the principles that the joint working arrangements between the council and health board will be based upon.

Councillor Stephen Hayes believe that the business case and governance arrangements would also need to be examined.

Councillor Jenner said: “I feel like we are now really part of this.”

In May 2019, the Welsh Government announced that £2.5 million of funding has been made available to start the project.

The proposals include a new school building for Ysgol Calon y Dderwen; health and care facilities, including the potential to carry out some outpatient diagnostic services and day-surgery as well as in-patient beds and services currently delivered at the Park Street Clinic; health and care academy; library provision; shared community space; community garden space and short-term supported living accommodation.

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