The Gibraltar Government yesterday outlined plans for a new three-storey bespoke Primary Care Centre and a Paediatric Centre in the surrounding grounds of St Bernard’s Hospital.
In doing so, the Government vowed to elevate “good quality healthcare to excellent healthcare”.
The plans were announced at a press conference at No. 6 Convent Place yesterday morning by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo alongside Health Minister Neil Costa, Medical Director and Consultant Paediatrician Dr Daniel Cassaglia and Deputy Medical Director and GP Lead, Dr Krishna Rawal.
Works are set to commence on the project imminently with the new Primary Care Centre due to open in the first half of 2019.
The Primary Care and Community Centre will be a brand new three-storey building designed around the needs and advice of the health care professionals working in the primary care system.
Primary care in itself will become a much more comprehensive service, focussing on improving community services and aiming to repatriate services from tertiary centres and secondary care, to where they are best provided.
“This is something we have long been wanting to achieve, so this is a huge step forward,” Mr Picardo said.
“This is a hugely exciting moment for the public in Gibraltar, I think this is really a giant leap in respect of how we organise primary care and in particular how we look after our children when it comes to their primary contact with healthcare in Gibraltar,” he said.
Mr Costa added that the new centre will elevate “very good healthcare to excellent healthcare.”
The development has been designed with the future in mind and teams will be working in integrated departments with increased office space, to make provisions for the further development of all primary health services.
Whilst the backbone of this service is that of GP clinics, there will also be additional services such as an expanded health promotion, a ‘walk in’ minor treatment area and provision for an out of hours GP service.
Familiar departments such as nursing, district nursing, diabetes, asthma clinics, community physiotherapy and occupational therapy will all be enhanced, improved and located close together to create a more cohesive team in order to increase efficiency.
Service hours will remain the same as in the existing PCC with the addition of evening clinics between 5pm-8pm.
Dr Rawal said the new centre will bring greater integration with all the GPs, administration, specialists and all sectors across the GHA.
“A much more seamless experience, and not forgetting, and perhaps one of the more important aspects, is our location which allows us far greater integration,” he explained.
The Paediatric Centre will combine children’s medical health services under one roof.
The project has been driven by a team of clinicians who specialise in paediatric healthcare.
The centre will be a cutting-edge hub for parents and their children with a wide range of healthcare services, in a convenient and child friendly environment, delivered by highly trained specialist staff.
Children’s healthcare will include multi-disciplinary primary and secondary outpatient paediatric medical care.
There will be a full range of child services available, including Physiotherapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics, Child and Adolescent Psychology, Audiology and Child welfare services, including Health Visitors and Immunisation services.
“The new children’s hub will put children and their families at the heart of the new service, by bringing together primary and as many secondary services for children as possible in one location. It is about co-locating existing services for children in an environment that is child friendly,” Dr Cassaglia said.
Dr Rawal said the new centres have been designed around the GHA and patient needs unlike having to adapt to the building the centre is currently located in, the International Commercial Centre.
The main theme of the new Primary Care Centre will be “essentially based on three storeys of integration,” said Dr Rawal.
“The main entrance into the new Primary Care Centre will be through the main entrance to the hospital, just to the side of it, allowing patients to actually go into the whole system through one entrance.”
“You will be greeted on every single floor by the main theme which is essentially a reception area and waiting area and a central atrium which will bring in light into the building to allow usable space and air to flow.”
“It is three storeys, the first two storeys [ground and first] will be mainly GP clinics and a central part of each of these storeys have a nursing central hub and administration to allow the clinics to have literally integration with all of the Clinicians,” said Dr Rawal.
“Up to the third floor you will have dental clinics and we will have our specialists’ clinics,” he added.
The thought process behind these clinics on the third floor will mean they are more separated and will offer more privacy and will be quieter, it will also allow for a greater waiting area.
Some of these specialist clinics include palliative care and dermatology.
Mr Picardo said that access to the services for the Primary Care Centre was considered.
“There are different parts of the geography in Europort that will be in play and different arrangement will be put in place in respect of accessing those areas,” he said Mr Picardo.
“A number of them will include areas which are under control of the Government, a number of them will be in partnership with private sector entities,” he added.