Approval by HM Treasury means work on the site, near Loughborough in the East Midlands, can now start in earnest, creating a 70-bed, ‘purpose-built and highly energy-efficient’ new facility as part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme. The specialist NHS facility will be built on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate, already home to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, which opened in 2018. The NRC’s fundamental purpose is ‘to enable better outcomes for people who have been seriously injured or experienced debilitating illness’.
Combining patient care delivered by staff from Nottingham University Hospitals with research, innovation, and training, the centre’s objective is to act as the national hub ‘to transform how people recover and regain fitness and function following serious injury or illness, and to widen access to rehabilitation beds’.
Those behind the scheme say the ‘unique opportunity to pioneer innovative new approaches to rehabilitation – including new technologies, with real-time feedback from clinicians and patients’, is a clinical model they hope will be rolled out across the country. This will be enabled ‘not least’ via an academic partnership led by the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University.
THE NRC said: “The green light for the NRC affirms the initiative set in motion by the 6th Duke of Westminster, who wanted to do something to help people seriously injured in their country’s service and – having proposed to build a new Defence facility to replace Headley Court – was asked by the then Secretary of State, Lord (Des) Browne if he might ‘do something for the nation too’. The Duke agreed, and the concept of creating both a Defence and an NHS specialist facility – working together and sharing expertise for mutual benefit on a single site – was developed in 2010 and led, following a gift from the Grosvenor family of more than £100 million, to the Defence establishment taking its first patients in 2018.” The now-approved NRC will be constructed 400 metres from the Defence facility (which is called ‘DMRC Stanford Hall’).
Miriam Duffy, NRC Programme director at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The National Rehabilitation Centre will transform how we provide clinical rehabilitation in this country. This long overdue centre will push the boundaries of rehabilitation for the next generation, and bring real impact in terms of helping people realise their full potential following injury or illness.”
The NRC plans have been brought forward by NUH, leading a specific NRC Programme with support from health and academic partners including the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University.
Both a regional and a national and international facility, the NRC will primarily treat patients from the East Midlands region (replacing and upgrading existing services in Nottingham), ‘but setting the blueprint for the roll-out of a regional model across the country’, while undertaking teaching and research, plus commercial research and development ‘in ways that are national and internationally significant’.
The Government approval means construction can start in earnest, with contracts exchanged between NUH and its construction partner, Integrated Health Projects (IHP).
Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster, said: “Since my father’s death, our family has fully supported what he set out to achieve in the clinical rehabilitation arena, so we are delighted that the full extent of the opportunity he initiated is being fulfilled with construction of the National Rehabilitation Centre now under way. The existence of both Defence and National rehabilitation centres on the same site was always what he wanted to see, and I have no doubt that the lasting impact will be the true legacy of what he set in motion.”
The designs for the NRC are ‘inspired by best practice from around the world’, with the facility ‘purpose-planned and designed around the patient’. The new building will be carbon Net Zero.
The NRC will share some specialist facilities with the DMRC, such as the hydrotherapy pool, gait lab and CAREN (Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment), ‘a high-tech treadmill device to help people to learn to walk again’. Under the new arrangement, specialist knowledge and skills that exist within Defence medicine because of the nature of wounding and injury in conflict can be used for the benefit of NHS patients. Expertise from NHS clinical leads and practitioners will similarly transfer in the other direction. This sharing concept is at the heart of the proposition, and – NRC says – will result in improvement across all aspects of clinical rehabilitation.