Andover Health Hub opened in January 2023 in an indoor shopping centre in this Hampshire market town. The hub is a joint venture between Test Valley Borough Council, NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Andover Primary Care Network (PCN), with integrated care at its heart. It will initially provide health checks for local residents, but the services on offer here will expand over time as part of town centre regeneration plans.
Test Valley Borough Council is leading work on a major regeneration project for Andover town centre, having developed a community-led masterplan. Central to this vision is a new mixed-use development on the site of the Chantry Centre, a council-owned indoor shopping centre.
The council and its health partners have been considering the health and wellbeing outcomes that could be achieved by regeneration, including new opportunities for integrated care. During COVID-19, the council, ICB and PCN set up a vaccination centre in an empty retail unit at the Chantry Centre.
This showed what was possible by working together, and they began planning the Andover Health Hub to take over this space when the vaccination centre closed in December 2022.
Test Valley Borough Council was successful in unlocking £1 million from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for six major projects in the borough – including £280,000 to get the Andover Health Hub up and running, and £110,000 to develop a community health worker model to work with residents in Andover’s most deprived wards.
Once the vaccination centre had closed, the council, ICB and PCN worked together to upgrade the retail unit – with new flooring, furniture and temporary partitions funded by the primary care network. The hub opened in January 2023 offering blood pressure checks, COVID vaccinations, and an NHS health check for people aged 40-74 which looks for early signs of kidney disease, stroke, type two diabetes, dementia and heart disease.
A programme of groups, clinics and activities to support health and wellbeing will also be offered – such as smoking cessation and weight management. The hub aims to ease pressure on local GP practices and build on the success of providing NHS services in the community, which proved critical during the pandemic.
At the time of writing the hub had been open for just six weeks, but some early data was available:
- over 1,000 health checks took place in the first six weeks
- 30% of those were with people from deprived communities
- the ‘did not attend’ rate was 5%, whereas the providers would usually model about 20% in other settings
- customers liked the hub’s accessibility and its proximity to shops and other services.
Dr Sarah Sierens, Andover PCN Strategic Clinical Director, said: “We hope in the long run providing preventative and social medicine solutions in a ‘health on the high street’ model will help support the people of Andover, including hard-to-reach communities. It could also reduce some of the pressure on the town’s primary care services, as well as local hospitals and the ambulance service.”
James Moody, Head of Strategy and Innovation at Test Valley Borough Council, said: “For us this is about integrated care at the most local neighbourhood level. The relationships we have with our colleagues at the PCN and the ICB are what has unlocked this potential.
“From a council point of view it’s about understanding and championing the needs of the place that we are working in, then playing a leadership and convening role to try and get the focus and the resources where it’s needed most.”
Councillor Phil North, Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, said: “This is very much the first step towards delivering on our ambition to create a fully functional health hub in Andover, 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.”
The hub will also help the partners to better understand and plan the long-term accommodation requirements for health services, as part of the town centre regeneration plans.
- Good relationships between the council, ICB and PCN meant they could move quickly when the opportunity for a hub came along.
- The hub will be a shared multi-agency space that responds to the community’s needs – not the needs of individual organisations.
- There was a conscious decision to start at a smaller scale then to expand in an evidenced way and at a manageable pace.