The former COVID vaccination centre in the Chantry Centre has today reopened its doors as the Andover Health Hub, enabling residents to pop in for blood pressure and other health checks in a bid to help prevent and diagnose conditions early on and improve people’s lives in the local community.
The unit closed just before Christmas, and since then Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) and colleagues from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board and Andover Primary Care Network (PCN) have worked together to upgrade the space, with the PCN funding new flooring and furniture and temporary partitions to transform the unit and provide the new services.
From today, as well as still being able to get their covid vaccinations, residents can now visit the Andover Health Hub to have their blood pressure checked. The hub is also offering NHS health checks to anyone aged between 40 and 74 years old with no pre-existing conditions, particularly if they have not received a health check during the pandemic. The health checks have been designed to spot early signs of kidney disease, stroke, type two diabetes, dementia and heart disease.
The unit will be open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Eligible residents will receive text messages from their GP practices to book an appointment direct through the hub. People can also pop in to the hub to check if they are eligible and book an appointment.
The move will help ease the pressure on stretched GP practices, but also builds on the success of providing NHS services out in the community, which has proved critical during the pandemic.
But NHS and local authority bosses have said that this is just the first step towards creating a fully functioning health hub that will provide a much wider range of services, and will be part-funded using money TVBC has secured from the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).
A sum of £280K from the UKSPF will help to expand the hub over the coming years and this will be complemented by an additional £100K contribution towards the creation of NHS outreach worker posts.
As part of the future plans for the health hub, TVBC and NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, will look to increase the range of services over time with a focus on preventing health issues and therefore reducing the number of people requiring NHS treatment.
And with TVBC’s town centre regeneration proposals continuing to move forward, the health hub pilot will enable them to identify the long-term requirements for NHS services in the town centre and include them in the masterplan.
Dr Sarah Sierens, Andover Primary Care Network Clinical Director, said: “It is very exciting to open the Andover Health Hub, which has been a collaborative project between Test Valley Borough Council, NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board and Andover Primary Care Network. Situated in the old vaccination unit in the Chantry Centre, this is a central location for every resident of Andover.
“In the long run this “health on the high street” model will help deliver support to the people of Andover, including hard-to-reach communities, and reduce some of the pressure on the town’s primary care services, as well as local hospitals and the ambulance service. It will do this by delivering social and preventative medicine and health education courses that then empower self-care through coaching and support. Moreover, through patient participation, it provides an opportunity for the people of Andover to help improve local health services where our community needs it most.
“Andover Health Hub, while in its infancy, will plan to collaborate with the many excellent support services in our community. Without undermining the work of current services and charities, we aim to work with them to really improve our residents’ health and social outcomes.”
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, added: “This is a great example of partnership working and we are delighted to be supporting our NHS colleagues to pilot and deliver this much-needed local health hub.
“This is very much the first step towards delivering on our ambition to create a proper health hub in the town, which we hope will eventually reduce the number of people having to access the NHS for treatments for problems that, with the right support and information, could have been avoided. Thanks to the UKSPF, we are in a great position to take this work forward. And with the knowledge our NHS colleagues will gain from this pilot, we will be better placed to understand and shape our long-term plans for health services in the town centre, so we can deliver them as part of the masterplan.”
The government launched the UKSPF with the aim of reducing inequalities and supporting economic development and local communities through the provision of £2.6B of funding.
They had already allocated the six-figure sum to Test Valley, but the council had to unlock the funding by identifying projects that would help deal with local challenges, bring communities together and support economic growth.
The Andover Health Hub is one of six projects set to receive funding locally.