When we think about the impact a hospital has on its locality, we think of it in terms of how many people have been treated, how many babies have been born, how many lives have been saved.
Last year alone, the Princess Alexandra Hospital treated over 87,000 people in our emergency department, held 283,000 outpatient visits, performed over 5,000 operations and delivered nearly 4,000 babies.
We provide vital health care services to thousands of people day in, day out with demand growing all the time. But what we don’t often realise is the broader benefits a hospital like ours can bring to the local and surrounding areas.
Did you know for example, that hospitals are usually the largest local employer? Providing jobs, careers and training to thousands of people. Did you also know that hospitals are so important they influence transport planning, impact housing development, determine community facilities and help support local businesses?
Hospitals can be much more than hospitals to their local communities, and our new hospital will be no different. The new Princess Alexandra Hospital will play a major role in the regeneration of Harlow, including the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town development. It will address health inequality through the creation of local opportunities, jobs and growth and be a positive driver of regeneration in an area of significant need.
And it will also benefit the environment. Hospitals have massive carbon footprints, with our current site emitting a whopping 22,000 tons of carbon every year. Our new hospital will be fully electric, and over the next two decades reach net carbon zero in line with NHS targets. Think of the (positive) impact that will have on our planet, our wellbeing and our wildlife.
Reading this, it’s easy to understand why my role overseeing the new hospital programme is highly complex. Not only does it involve working with our staff, healthcare partners and patients to build a hospital that delivers outstanding care, it also means working in partnership with our local authorities, our planners, our community services, our local businesses and a whole host of other key players to deliver regional infrastructure improvements.
Planning any new hospital is a major undertaking, but the new Princess Alexandra Hospital will be more than worth it. A state-of-the-art hospital that will transform the health outcomes of the local population and be a catalyst for major economic growth too. We’re raising the bar for all new hospitals in the UK, and we can’t wait to get going.
As the senior responsible officer for the new hospital programme, that’s a pretty exciting challenge to have, don’t you think?