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A new era in health and social care for Merthyr Tydfil

Wednesday, 1 August 2012
The Keir Hardie Health Park is a £35m development by Cwm Taf Health Board, which brings together community health and GP services, outpatient clinics and therapies and mental health and learning disability services all under one roof for the first time.

The three-storey building on the Georgetown plateau, next to the Cyfarthfa retail park, will also be home to community dentistry, local authority-run services and will provide a base for voluntary sector organisations, including Citizens Advice, the Alzheimer’s Society, Age Concern Morgannwg and MIND Cymru, to run drop-in sessions.


It is the only health centre of its kind in Wales to integrate health, wellbeing and social care on such an extensive scale, under one roof.


KeirHardie02PE240712.jpgThe opening of the health park, together with the ongoing refurbishment of wards at Prince Charles Hospital, will mean Merthyr Tydfil has some of the most modern healthcare facilities in Wales.


Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, chair of Public Health Wales who had the initial vision for a health park on the site, said: “This is a dream realised. The people of Merthyr Tydfil have been short-changed so often in regards to healthcare when plan after plan had to be abandoned.


“This health park provides more than up-to-date and more than modern facilities which looks at all aspects of healthcare on one site.


“This is a wonderful reward and will be the best there is in delivering primary and community care in Europe. It will improve the health of the people of Merthyr Tydfil and it will turn the inverse care law - which says that places with the greatest health needs have the least – on its head.”


The three GP practices currently based in the Hollies Health Centre, in Merthyr Tydfil, will move into spacious, purpose-built accommodation on the ground floor of the health park, which has been named after Keir Hardie - one of the founders of the Labour party, who represented Merthyr Tydfil at the start of the 20th century.


Sexual health and contraception clinics, midwifery and a wound care service will also be provided from Keir Hardie Health Park.


Outpatient clinics currently provided at Prince Charles and St Tydfil’s hospitals will move to the state-of-the-art health park.


SAM0472.JPGThe ground floor also features a dedicated area for child and adolescent services, including mental healthcare. Students from Merthyr College have worked with contractors Laing O’Rourke and Cwm Taf Health Board’s artist-in-residence Heather Parnell to create the large mural (pictured).


It is expected more public art will be created, including in partnership with local artists, schools and colleges, for display throughout the Keir Hardie Health Park. Further funding of £40,000 has been earmarked for artwork.


The 10,000m sq health park also provides fully-furnished high-tech day units – one for 30 people with learning disabilities and the second for 25 people with dementia. There is also a “showroom” and assessment centre for people who need adaptations to their homes – from walk-in showers to contrast plugs for the partially sighted – to enable them to continue living independently.
The seven-chair community dental unit, on the first floor of the health park, replaces the current service at the Hollies Health Centre and the single chair at St Tydfil’s Hospital. Two of the chairs have been specifically designed to be accessible to disabled patients and are the only ones of their kind in the borough.


The first floor of the health park also includes the adult mental health resource centre, which will be a base for patients in Merthyr Tydfil who need counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy or psychiatric sessions. All the community mental health services, which are currently based at the Seymour Berry centre and St Tydfil’s Hospital will move into the health park.


A range of therapy services currently provided at Prince Charles Hospital, at the Hollies Health Centre and in the community will be relocated to the health park in September, in time for it to be fully up and running in October. These include dietetics, speech and language therapy, podiatry, physiotherapy, audiology and occupational therapy.


The health park also has designated space for a pharmacy. Two applications have been received to run the facility - an independent official process must now be followed before a pharmacy can open.


Plans are now being developed to build a medical school on the health park site to help train the next generation of doctors in Merthyr Tydfil.

The view of the Georgetown plateau, site of the Keir Hardie Health Park, taken from Dowlais c1900

Keir Hardie Health Park was designed by BDP Architects and the landscape design was supported by Joanna Yates, who was tragically murdered in Bristol, in December 2010.


During construction, more than 90% of the workforce employed on site came from within a 40-mile radius of Merthyr Tydfil.


Dr Chris Jones, chair of Cwm Taf Health Board, said: “This is a fantastic new health centre for the people of Merthyr Tydfil and will bring together health and social care services in the area, on one site, for the first time.

“This will be the most modern healthcare facility in Wales. While it will provide new accommodation for three GP practices, it is not about simply replacing like with like – it’s an opportunity to develop and provide a new model of high quality care, which meet
For more information contact Madeleine Brindley, head of communications at Cwm Taf Health Board on 01443 744 812 or email madeleine.brindley@wales.nhs.uks the needs of the local population.”

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