Councillors have spoken of ‘a sense of excitement’ and dreams coming true as the NHS’s new health hub for King’s Lynn starts to take shape.

More than 25 guests were taken on a tour of the site in Nar Ouse Way which will house a range of primary care services, as well as a maternity hub and rehabilitation therapy services from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

Guests from NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB), the QEH, and officers and councillors from West Norfolk Council joined representatives from NHS Property Services and health construction specialists Darwin Group for a private tour to see progress on the £11.5m new-build healthcare facility.

The hub will house more than 20 new clinical rooms, providing a modern, fully accessible and digitally enabled facility which will help transform how health and care services are delivered in the Lynn area and increase access to services for people in the town and surrounding areas.

Following the tour, Jo Rust, borough council cabinet member for people and communities, said: “The facility is going to make a huge difference to our local community.  

“It’ll mean parents-to-be and the population in general won’t always have to traipse to the QEH to get their maternity services or physiotherapy.  

“It’ll offer social prescribing and health and wellbeing services and, while it is not a new GP surgery, it will alleviate some of the burdens that our surgeries face as most of us see our GP as the first port of call.

“Not all our ailments need the services of a GP and some of the additional NHS roles held by staff will be able to look after us in a more targeted way.

“I got a real sense of excitement from those who were on the tour with me, this is a purpose-built building making the most of new technology. 

“Those people who will use it have had a say in its design. It won’t be long before we can see it up and running and I look forward to that.”

The building has been produced using  Modern Methods of Construction – where building structures are manufactured off site and then installed on site more quickly than if they were built there. This creates less material waste and reduces the impact on the environment.

Inside, walls have been sprayed with an intelligent membrane to create an airtight building shell. Insulation throughout the building has been upgraded, triple-glazed windows have been installed to improve thermal performance and air source heat pumps and LED lighting will help to reduce energy consumption. 

The building, which will have an A+ energy performance rating, will also be net zero carbon in operation, meaning it will use less energy than it generates, leading to cheaper utility bills and less CO2 emissions.

Alexandra Kemp, borough councillor for South and West Lynn, and county councillor for King’s Lynn South and Clenchwarton, said: “Having campaigned for the new surgery for five years,  it  was a dream come true when the NHS  chose South Lynn to be one of only  five sites in Norfolk for a  new surgery.

“The report from NHS consultants Norlife in 2019 said Lynn had fallen behind other towns in the quality of its surgery buildings. This is a building fit for the future.

“With so many young families, and also older people with musculoskeletal issues locally, having physio, rehab and maternity in the surgery makes real sense. 

“People with bone and joint issues will have earlier help and hopefully make an earlier recovery.”

Work started on site in late autumn 2023, and progress over the winter has seen the installation of drainage, preparation and installation of the foundations, and installation of the modular building units. 

Paul Higham, director of primary care estates at NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB, said: “We are delighted with the progress we’re seeing on site and it’s exciting to see this much-needed development finally taking shape.

“This new health hub will provide a range of health services that will help to meet residents’ needs for healthcare services in King’s Lynn now, and to meet the growing demand from the planned expansion of the town.”

Victoria Shaw, property development partner at NHS Property Services, said: “The new healthcare hub will offer people in King’s Lynn and the surrounding areas a sustainable, modern, and fully accessible facility.

“Through NHS Property Services’ partnership with customers, we can assist health professionals in delivering the best possible care to patients in a building designed to meet their needs.”

Jim Pierce, deputy chief executive at Darwin Group, said: “We know how important this facility will be for the wider King’s Lynn community, so to be able to show people the progress that has been made so far has been very satisfying. 

“It’s been fascinating for our team to hear about the positive impact the health hub will have on maternity and rehabilitation services for the area too.

“It’s not often that so many stakeholders get to see the progress of a project in this way. I think it’s given them a good understanding of the benefits of using modular construction methods for this project, especially in terms of the net zero carbon aspect.”

The new hub is part of a wider £25.2m NHS capital investment into health and care facilities in Norfolk and Waveney.

Progress on at the King’s Lynn Health Hub will continue into the Spring, with the new facility anticipated to be ready for use in Summer 2024.