Browse our frequently asked questions to get the most up to date information about our new hospital.
FAQs last updated: October 2022
For over 50 years, The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust has provided a full range of general acute, outpatient and diagnostic services for the people of west Essex and east Hertfordshire.
Since we first opened, our hospital estate has undergone many additions and extensions to accommodate the growing range of medical equipment, the ongoing increase of specialist care, and the continued growth of the local population.
And whilst our buildings have undergone necessary modernisation, much remains as first built. This combination of original and additional space has created a setting where services can’t be provided in a streamlined and effective way.
So, despite the remarkable efforts of our hospital staff, who do great work every day against the odds, our hospital building is simply no longer fit for purpose. This is recognised by our local and regional stakeholders and by the Government who has announced us as one of 48 new hospitals in its £3.7billion New Hospital Programme.
Our new hospital will transform healthcare for the people of Harlow and beyond. It will be a world-class facility delivering first-rate care for our patients and the best working environment for our people.
It will be a community asset to be truly proud of. Our goal is to build an exemplar of contemporary architecture set in acres of therapeutic landscape. A building that is technologically innovative and efficient, fully electric and carbon neutral.
It won’t just be a modern version of our existing hospital building. It will be a new hospital designed for the future: able to swiftly adapt to innovation and change. Capable of providing the best care for generations to come.
A large new build hospital is many years in the making. Before construction can even start, there are a number of very important stages we have to go through which can take many months, even years. Here’s a short timeline:
2018 We identified three locations as potential sites for new hospital and completed a detailed options analysis looking at the pros and cons of developing our current site or building a new hospital on a new site. There was broad agreement from internal and external stakeholders that a new hospital on a new site was the best way forward
2019 In October, the Government announced us as one of six brand new hospitals as part of the first round of their multi-million-pound new hospital programme.
2019 Our hospital trust board voted for the preferred option for our new hospital on a greenfield site
2020 In Spring, the HOSC and our commissioners (West Essex CCG) agreed that a full public consultation was not required but public engagement on the new hospital was essential
2020 In October, the Government confirmed us as one of the pathfinder schemes in the 48 new hospitals programme
We are currently working on our Outline Business Case for the programme, and once that is approved we will begin the development of our Full Business Case and begin the procurement of our construction partner.
A detailed estimate of the costs for the new hospital will be developed during the preparation of the Outline Business Case.
The overall money needed from the Government will be subject to approval by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Treasury as part of the Government’s approval process for the Outline Business Case and the Full Business Case.
The project is fully-funded by the Government as part of its New Hospital Programme .
Our current hospital estate is no longer fit for purpose. A detailed options analysis looking at the pros and cons of developing our current site or building a new hospital on a new site concluded that a new hospital on a new site was the best way forward.
Our plan is for our new hospital to be set in an attractive landscape, forming an important integral part of Harlow and the surrounding communities . The design of our new hospital will make the most of its setting, benefiting patients, staff and visitors. We are currently negotiating with the landowners to buy the new site. Due to commercial sensitivities we can’t share the specific location at the time of writing. However, we will update these FAQs as soon as we can.
We will ensure the proposed site will be easy to get to, with road access for visitors and blue light traffic significantly improved from our current site on Hamstel Road.
The new location is at the end of the eastern Sustainable Transport Corridor which will extend into the site and provide priority access for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.
We are preparing a comprehensive travel plan with local councils and specialists to promote sustainable travel to and provide appropriate vehicle space and car parking on our new site. Our priority concern is that all necessary journeys to our new hospital are convenient, affordable and quick for staff and patients.
We understand that being able to park at your hospital is a really important concern for many of you. There will be vehicle and car parking at our new site and the amount of spaces will be determined by us having a better understanding of the future demand for hospital visits and our staff travel arrangements. We are working on that as part of our Outline Business Case.
Key to our new models of care is the desire to reduce unnecessary visits to hospital and extend our virtual appointments system and remote monitoring for everyone who needs it. This ease of access is central to plans for our patients, visitors and our people.
We are also committed to sustainability and are working closely with local partners to provide more sustainable travel options for patients, visitors and staff.
We will update you in more detail on parking and travel in due course.
The recently adopted Harlow Local Plan (page 62) has allocated the Hamstel Road hospital site for housing (approx. 550 homes). However, there is a fall-back clause allowing us to remain and redevelop the current hospital site if we are unable to relocate for whatever reason.
The new hospital will continue to deliver the same services as now. We are not changing the range of services that we provide, but we are changing the ways we deliver them, in a building that is fit for the future.
This will lead to improvements in the care we provide, currently restricted by the Hamstel Road estate. The new hospital will provide a better working environment for staff and help make sure we are ready to cope with future changes in population, modern healthcare delivery and importantly, the challenges and demands of any future pandemic.
We have been working closely with specialist health planners and delivery partners to understand the future demand for our services. The number of beds in our new hospital will be determined by a number of factors including future population growth and changes in how we deliver care, which are set out in our new models of care. Further information on our models of care can be found here.
Our main aim is to ensure our patients receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
Discussions on what healthcare provision will remain in Harlow town centre and at St Margaret’s and Herts and Essex are underway as part of the development of our Outline Business Case. There are a number of options being considered at this stage and further detail will be shared soon.
We are part of an Integrated Care System working in partnership with local councils, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and others to manage resources and share knowledge to improve the health of the population we serve.
The partners in our local Integrated Care System have been closely involved in developing our models of care. This is to make sure our healthcare plans are aligned, and that collectively we can provide better and more joined-up care for patients.
We will be able to share further details on plans for community services in due course.
Our new hospital is being designed with future pandemics in mind. We have learned so much about how our hospital needs to respond to a crisis of this scale and this learning is at the heart of our new hospital planning.
The design will allow the building to be adapted easily, efficiently, and economically.
Critically, in times of crisis management, it will deliver the flexibility to increase, divide or rapidly lock down clinical spaces in order to isolate infection. Whilst also maintaining business as usual in other areas of the hospital.
Our designs will take into consideration that a future pandemic could be very different in nature to that of Covid-19 and the hospital will need to be able to respond accordingly.
We are really excited about the architects’ designs for our new hospital and we can’t wait to start sharing them in 2022.
Designing a new hospital is a huge opportunity to translate the needs and ideas we are hearing from the patients we care for, the people who care about them and the people who provide high quality health care every day. It is hugely exciting to have this once in a lifetime chance to transform the way people experience health care in a holistic and modern setting that has quality, technology and wellbeing at its heart.
We want our new hospital to look and feel like a place of health and wellbeing, not a place of sickness. It will be very different to our current hospital; bright, airy and spacious, with a connection to the surrounding natural environment and plenty of indoor and outdoor space to rest, relax and recuperate. Importantly, it will provide restful and private spaces for our patients and our people. And it is essential that the building be fully accessible and dementia friendly.
We know from practical experience of our current hospital building how important it is for the design of the new hospital to be future proof and flexible in the way it functions. By design, it must be flexible to change, be pandemic ready and able to meet the very wide needs of everyone who will use the building and the space it sits in.
We are aiming to be one of the first fully electric hospitals in the UK and be completely carbon neutral both in construction and in ongoing operation.
We’re working very hard to achieve this goal, and we hope to set a path for other hospitals to follow.
Our new hospital building will combine highly flexible design with maximum environmental performance. And we’ll make the best use of technology in energy generation and conservation.
We are planning our hospital with increased future demands in mind. The hospital will be built using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), which means we will have a modular structure where many of the component parts are factory-built offsite and installed quickly and efficiently.
Given our structure is modular and repeatable, and will be located on a large greenfield site, there is potential space for future expansion.
Over the course of the build programme, we will have lots of news and information to share and we want to know what your views are, at every step. There are a number of ways you can get involved:
We are committed to seeking out, listening to and acting on patient, staff and public opinion and we really want to engage you throughout this exciting journey to our new hospital.
We will provide as much notice as possible of key events and decision milestones so you are given sufficient time to consider your views. We will provide a wide range of ways to share your feedback and interact with us. We’ll make sure the content and format of our engagement activity is inclusive and represents and reflects the communities we serve.
We’ll also report back regularly on suggestions and concerns raised and how we have dealt with them for example, ‘you said, we did’.
Yes please! Email us firstname.lastname@example.org with your question and depending on its nature we’ll either respond to you directly or add it to the next update of these FAQs.