Community health hubs: Could they be the answer to saving £26 million for an average-sized ICS?

With financial pressures increasing for NHS Trusts year-on-year, could the introduction of more community health hubs be one way to help improve health outcomes while saving millions simultaneously?

A recent article published by NHS Providers following NHS Confederation analysis recognises that investment into community services could ‘create an average 31 per cent return on investment and average net saving of £26 million for an average-sized integrated care system (ICS)’ by reducing acute service demand.

A community-centred prevention initiative could include investment into community health hubs. Such buildings have been recognised as a way to expand primary care services, including those delivered by general practice, and improve access to other community-provided services.

Saving costs and increasing access for patients and the health service

The NHS Providers article explains that ‘deprived communities (particularly with low-income, unemployed, or homeless individuals), rural communities and specific social-demographic groups (e.g., carers, disabled people, young people, and older people) face greater cost-related barriers to accessing healthcare.’  

Such barriers include;  

  • Transport poverty – the cost related to making the necessary journeys to and from health settings  
  • Making appointments through phone calls   
  • The price and collection of prescriptions   

Having community health hubs closer to local residents will help alleviate all of the above, making it cheaper to attend appointments with access to walk-in services that would reduce the need for making prior appointments and arrangements.   

They also offer early dedication for health issues, reducing the need for potential hospital admissions and costly treatment for advanced problems further down the line.  

Bringing first-line care further into the community

It involves the co-location of services, covering well-being services, diagnostic services, medical speciality, pop-up clinics and social prescribing, alongside the core services of general practice.   

According to this report from NHS Providers, released in January 2024, non-elective admission rates decreased by 15%, and ambulance conveyance rates by 10%, in ‘systems that have invested in community care’.   

The benefits? Community health hubs are anticipated to build further integrated services, provide more direct and local access to care services, re-direct services to avoid secondary care admissions, help ease demand pressures and ultimately, create a more resilient community.   

The development of King’s Lynn Health Hub   

In the heart of King’s Lynn, Darwin Group is working with NHS Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) to build a dedicated Health Hub, providing a modern, fully accessible and digitally enabled facility to deliver care.  

The King’s Lynn Health Hub houses over 20 new clinical rooms and is due to house a range of primary care services, as well as a maternity hub and rehabilitation therapy services from the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The Hub will transform how health and care services are delivered in the King’s Lynn area and increase access to services for people in the town and surrounding areas.  

Darwin Group recently led an exclusive progress tour around the new Health Hub site, where guests from NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, and related local services had the opportunity to see progress on site.  

At the visit, Paul Higham, Director of Primary Care Estates at NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB, said: “We are delighted with the progress on site. It’s exciting to see this much-needed development finally taking shape. This new health hub will provide a range of health services that will help to meet residents’ needs for healthcare services in King’s Lynn now, and to meet the growing demand from the planned expansion of the town.”  

To explore the development of King’s Lynn Health Hub in more detail or discuss an upcoming project with one of the Darwin Group team, please contact enquiries@darwingroup.co.uk or complete the form below, and a member of the team will be in touch.  

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