Altrincham Wellbeing Centre 10

Governance overhaul follows Altrincham Healthcare Hub failures

Charlie Schouten

Trafford’s clinical commissioning group is undergoing a comprehensive review of its leadership after a report by EY slammed the organisation for its handling of the £24m project, which still remains largely vacant eight months after completion.

A damning report released in March revealed a catalogue of failures behind the building’s development and pointed the finger at “weak governance, lack of effective challenge, changing leadership, and a lack of adherence to proper processes”.

The 88,000 sq ft centre opposite the town’s market was originally due to house three GP surgeries, a paediatric service provider, and an NHS service centre, but the building has remained empty after Trafford’s Clinical Commissioning Group announced it was “revisiting its long-term strategy” last year.

Criticism raised in EY’s report includes the “close professional relationships” between individuals working for Trafford Council, the CCG, and Citybranch. Individuals who had worked for the council and for the CCG went on to attend Trafford Council and CCG meetings with Citybranch, providing “consultancy services” to the developer after leaving their roles.

EY also found there was “no evidence” of a detailed review into the building’s full business case, which was only 80% complete when submitted to the CCG’s governing body in May 2015.

Ahead of a board meeting next week, the CCG has now set out the actions it has taken to review its governance to “learn the lessons” from the report, from business case, its board, and execution of projects.

The CCG has taken a three-stage review of its governance, including the recruitment of new board members, with a number of others stepping down following the end of two four-year terms. Further phases will review all the CCG’s sub-committees, along with a third phase to review the CCG’s policies and procedures.

The CCG is also looking to tackle its organisational culture, with the governing board finding a culture where appropriate challenge was encouraged and supported was felt to be lacking in the past and vital to the future”. Measures to improve reporting include the development of a plan delivery group, and changes to its corporate risk register.

A task group consisting of Joseph Chandy, GP neighbourhood member; medical director Mark Jarvis; Sam Sherrington, governing body nurse member; Chris Gaffey, governance and support services manager; and Martyn Pritchard, accountable officer, has also been established to review the CCG’s actions in relation to the Altrincham Hub.

Despite these changes, the CCG is still likely to have to find £1.5m to ensure the building is occupied, with its preferred option to convert the top floor into commercial office space; this was originally set aside for the NHS Service Centre.

The body’s preferred option is to move the GP surgeries into the first floor, with community services provided on the ground and second floors; the surgeries due to move are St John’s Medical Centre and Barrington Road Surgery.

NHS Property Services is paying £1.6m in rent on the building per year, along with £750,000 in rates, insurance, and facilities management. Along with a £111,000 facilities management contingency budget, this amounts to £2.4m a year. The building has subsequently been sold to Canada Life, which agreed to forward-fund the project. NHS Property Services has the option to acquire the freehold lease of the building after 30 years for a nominal sum of £1.

Altrincham Library, which relocated from its existing site at Clarendon House, has moved as planned and opened in the building’s ground floor last year.

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The people who were responsible for the management should be brought to account for a complete shambles.The NHS suffers enough on financial problems without 2 million going down the drain ,and the cost of the building.The people of Altrincham deserve better! they could have put the New Hospital there,or community facilities which we have not had since we had the Stamford Hall back in the 70s. Does the community matter?

By Trevor