A MULTIMILLION pound health centre has opened its doors for the first time.
The £21million Houghton Primary Care Centre will boast 24 in-patient beds for rehabilitation, a minor surgery suite, community physiotherapy and clinical assessment for musculoskeletal conditions once fully operational.
It will also provide mental health and healthy lifestyle services, diagnostics, and facilities for patients with long-term conditions such as heart or respiratory disease and diabetes.
The energy-efficient facility ties in with the £2.4million renovation of neighbouring Houghton Sports Complex, following the completion of a new wellness centre.
The fourth of its kind to be built on Wearside, the centre has been developed by NHS South of Tyne and Wear, which covers Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust (TPCT), and aims to improve access to health services for local communities.
Gillian De’Ath, operational reform manager, said: “I’ve been involved with the project from its inception. The centre has turned out exactly as we thought it would.
“Our main aim is to give people better access to healthcare services, particularly in an area were public transport is not fantastic, and provide a wide range of facilities.”
Construction of the centre began last January and was completed in August.
Most services will be launched in the coming months, although the in-patient beds and minor surgery suite are expected to be introduced early next year.
“Services will be phased into the building in the coming months, although some are up and running now and many will be within weeks,” said Ms De’Ath.
“We held an open day over the weekend when 150 people were given a tour of the building, but this is the first time we have been open to the public.”
It recently became the first healthcare building in the UK to achieve an “outstanding” rating by Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method at design stage.
The honour was in recognition of measures used to conserve energy, including a wind generator to make electricity, solar thermal panels to produce heat and rain water harvesting.
The centre also includes a community garden, where a time capsule was buried by pupils from nearby Burnside Primary School.
Sue Winfield, chairman of Sunderland TPCT, said: “The centre provides a one-stop-shop for a variety of healthcare services in a convenient location and is bringing care closer to home for patients offering them more flexible services and saving some a visit to hospital.”