A national pilot scheme to create six super health and wellbeing hubs, also known as Cavell Centres, has been halted by NHS England (NHSE) due to a lack of capital funding.
The Cavell Centres – named after Edith Cavell, a British nurse during World War I – aimed to bring health and social care services together in one building, including GP practices and other health services such as pharmacies, dental clinics and mental health support.
The six sites under consideration were Sleaford in Lincolnshire, Staines in Surrey, Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, Plymouth in Devon, Derby in Derbyshire, and Shrewsbury in Shropshire.
Though plans were still in development and subject to both ICB and NHSE approval, a business case had been approved by NHS Devon ICB in August 2022 for the Plymouth site.
Demolition work was already underway for the proposed £60-million centre at Colin Campbell Court in Plymouth’s West End, but a regional review concluded that ‘the lack of an identified source of capital’ could prevent the business case from progressing further.
Doubts were raised about the future of the Plymouth site in October 2022 after it emerged that £41 million of NHS funding would not arrive. And Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, asked former health minister Robert Jenrick to restore the funding or find it from elsewhere.
But a Devon ICB report published this month revealed that there was no national capital available. Alternative sources of funding, such as ICB capital, were explored but deemed unaffordable.
It said: ‘Originally the national Cavell team were expecting to receive capital funding for the six pilot sites through the last Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
‘Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful and although funding was never promised for the project, NHS Devon was one of the six pioneer sites who were encouraged to develop the business case at pace while national colleagues sought the capital from underspends on other capital projects.
‘We have since been told that no national funding is currently available, and that the Plymouth Cavell will next be considered as part of the CSR in 2024/25.’
NHSE since confirmed that the scheme would not go ahead in the other five sites either.
A spokesperson said: ‘NHSE has paused the development of the project business cases to focus on developing the programme business case ahead of a bid for capital funding for the programme at the upcoming spending review.’
The Department of Health and Social Care as well as Devon ICB were approached for comment.
This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.