Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen. What a real pleasure it is to be with you today to be with you this afternoon to learn a little more about the work you have been undertaking here at Cherry Knowle Hospital and also in the way that you are trying to design a new mental health facility within the context of an extension to the village of Ryhope.
When back in November 2001 I shared a platform with the then Secretary of State at a conference co-hosted by NHS Estates and my Foundation for the Built Environment, I was pleased to launch the start of what has been a very positive collaboration on an initiative, “Building Better Health”, promoting an integrated approach to design quality in healthcare buildings and an integrated approach in the way we treat redundant hospitals and incorporate ‘old into new'.
Of course, Cherry Knowle Hospital site was one of five National Pilot Projects selected as part of the first tranche of projects. And I do believe what I have seen and heard today points the way forward for many other NHS Trusts and areas like Ryhope which could, I believe, benefit from a more enlightened approach to developing truly integrated hospitals and communities where the patient or the pedestrian are put at the centre of the whole process, rather than the machine or the car – which tends to be current practice.
I think the exhibition shows just how much progress was made during the Enquiry by Design process and how all the contributions from key partners have been incorporated into a radical new plan. This plan sets out a clearer vision and aspiration for a higher quality environment and a more sustainable community. At the end of the day, I believe this has the potential to be a benchmark to which all health trusts could aspire.
Indeed, I understand the whole Enquiry by Design event was filmed and will soon be made into an interactive CD Rom and short video which will be disseminated throughout the NHS as an example of best practice – perhaps the Secretary of State might even see it?! Secretary of State, I do believe the Enquiry by Design model could just have something to offer in terms of added value – which is what it all seems to be about – for the residual NHS Estate property portfolio and long-term value.
As a Pilot Project, the work at Cherry Knowle has only just begun and there is a lot more to do and it will be important to build on the outcome of the Enquiry process by evolving the Strategic Framework Plan into a Development Code and to put in place the necessary Implementation and Delivery mechanisms to make the vision a reality. The key will be to ensure the developers build what all of you as stakeholders would like, rather than picking off parts of the site for ad hoc development and purely for commercial profit. I believe my Foundation could have a vital role in helping facilitate this process.
So ladies and gentlemen, I really am immensely encouraged by what I have seen today; I hope the Secretary of State is too. I should like to pay special tribute to the way in which NHS Estates has collaborated so effectively with my Foundation. I hope it will prove to be a worthwhile collaboration for many years to come.
I should also like to congratulate all the people and partner organisations who attended – and survived! – the Enquiry by Design process – which, incidentally, took four days for a process which, under the conventional model, would have taken two years – and thank the staff of the South of Tyne and Wearside Mental Health NHS Trust who have worked tirelessly alongside my Foundation in helping to run the Enquiry by Design event and move the project into a new and exciting phase of design and development.
I can only hope that over the next few months I will learn of more positive progress and that in a few years' time, I might be able to return to Ryhope to open your new hospital which will have been built using the model all of you developed over those four days last November.