26 June 2008,

Health Secretary of State Alan Johnson opens Gracefield Gardens

Health Secretary Alan Johnson opens Gracefield Gardens - 27th June 2008

The secretary of state for health, Alan Johnson, MP, today formally opened the Gracefield Gardens health and social care centre in central Streatham.

This £8.9m landmark building provides a superb new home to a wide range of NHS and Lambeth Council services in a single location, including:

  • Lambeth PCT nursing and therapy services.

  • Two GP practices previously housed in poor quality premises nearby.

  • A Lambeth Council customer centre and council social care and children's services.

Next month Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust will begin to provide services at the centre, including tests and outpatient consultations.

Alan Johnson was met at Gracefield Gardens by Caroline Hewitt (chair of Lambeth PCT), Cllr Lorna Campbell (cabinet member for health and care services at Lambeth Council) and Ron Kerr, chief executive of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

During a short tour of the centre he met:

  • PCT health visitors working with families in the baby clinic.

  • Family doctors from the centre's two GP practices.

  • Members of the Guy's and St Thomas' team who will work at the centre.

  • Staff and service users in the Lambeth Council customer centre.

Before unveiling a plaque to declare the centre open, Alan Johnson also met Geoffrey Shepherd (chief executive) and Karen Sarkissian (director of art and heritage) from the Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, to admire the courtyard garden oak benches and garden planters commissioned by the Charity in line with its policy of providing site specific artworks to enhance all major NHS capital and refurbishment projects in Lambeth and Southwark.

Alan Johnson said: "This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the creation of the NHS. Back then Nye Bevan spoke about having health centres in every community, and Gracefield Gardens is a fabulous example of what he meant. I'm delighted to declare the centre officially open."

PCT chair Caroline Hewitt said: "Gracefield Gardens is a superb and welcoming place and a powerful expression of how we can work together as agencies in more integrated in ways, just as people tell us they want.

"It expresses as well the PCT's commitment to work closely with our local GPs, our partners and, most crucially, with local people to develop services that are right for their community and which truly address their health and social care needs."

Cllr Campbell said: "Gracefield Gardens shows how we can work together in new and different ways to deliver quality services and tackle inequalities. In this way it's an excellent realisation of our vision for the borough."

Ron Kerr said: "This is an important opportunity for us to develop our services, and will allow us to learn what works best for local people in Lambeth, Southwark and neighbouring boroughs. For example, we are keen to deliver our services closer to where patients live and we hope this will provide a number of benefits including a reduced need to travel to hospital for outpatient appointments, tests or minor procedures".

ENDS

Press enquiries please contact: Nick Fairclough on 020 3049 4157.

Notes to editors:

  • Please find photo attached showing left to right Cllr Lorna Campbell (cabinet member for health and care services at Lambeth Council), Caroline Hewitt (chair of Lambeth PCT) and Alan Johnson, MP (secretary of state for health). Please credit Alex Griffiths.

  • Gracefield Gardens is part of a £30m construction and refurbishment programme across Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham under a national NHS initiative known as LIFT (local improvement finance trust). The initiative brings public and private sector partners together to invest in the provision of new and improved health and social care facilities. Lambeth PCT has plans to develop new primary care centres through the LIFT programme, including at Myatt's Field/Akerman Road and Streatham Common.

  • The centre was shortlisted in the innovation category for the annual LIFT award this year and has been visited by a succession of VIPs, including most recently by Sarah Brown, the wife of the prime minister.

  • The centre is part of a wider £14m programme to improve NHS primary and community healthcare in Streatham by opening a mix of larger and smaller GP practices and health centres. A number of Streatham GP practices already open until late on certain evenings and on Saturday mornings, making it easier for local patients to see a GP.

  • Lambeth Council's customer centre deals with enquiries about benefits, council tax, housing and parking. Visitors can also use the self-service terminals to access general information, pay bills and report faults. The location of the council's customer centre alongside NHS services at Gracefield Gardens is a concrete example of the close partnership between the council and the PCT.

  • Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust is about to provide a range of services from Gracefield Gardens, including direct access to tests and diagnostics, outpatient consultations and joint working between primary and secondary care professionals in a setting closer to patients' homes. Services will include non-invasive cardiology enabling patients to access walk in services for ECGs and ECHOs and a multidisciplinary diabetes service with an emphasis on patient education, reducing the need for hospital attendance.

  • Guy's and St Thomas' Charity is the largest NHS-related charity in the UK, investing in improvements to healthcare in Lambeth and Southwark. Grants help support new services and innovations in the health services and fund research infrastructure as well as the translation of laboratory research into clinical practice. The Charity maintains the collection of art and heritage at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and commissions new works of art to enhance the environment across the Lambeth and Southwark PCTs, allocating one per cent of any new build or refurbishment to integral works of art. The Charity commissioned furniture designer Angus Ross to create contemporary outdoor seating for the courtyard. The graceful oak benches capped with copper finials have been well received by patients and staff alike. It is anticipated that the courtyard will be used for the performing arts in the coming months.