‘World-class’ healthcare research centre planned for Barking
- Credit: Archant
A multi-million pound world-class healthcare research centre envisioned to revolutionise wellbeing is on its way to Barking and Dagenham.
The brains behind the groundbreaking Care City, which will be based in Barking, believe that its importance will be on par with Tech City in Shoreditch, one of the largest technology startup clusters in the world, and lifesciences cluster MedCity, which is currently being built in Euston,
Plans for the centre, a partnership between the North East London Foundation Trust and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, include a frailty academy to build expertise and enable community-based research into aging conditions, an aim to provide employment to local people and a hub providing space for local business and entrepeneurs.
And while the permanent site isn’t expected to be up and running for another three years, an interim site set to demonstrate some of what the centre will offer on a smaller scale is scheduled to open in Wigham House in Wakering Road, Barking, in the winter, ahead of running to full capacity in March.
Steve Feast, NELFT executive medical director, says Care City is an opportunity to make a real difference to health in the borough - while also accelerating regeneration in the Thames Gateway with an influx of investment which should address health inequality in the east end of the capital.
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“It will continue to develop the centre of Barking as a kind of hub,” he explained. “The area is really coming to life and there are some really interesting historic buildings around which we want to add to.”
He wants to harness the talent and expertise in the borough, and get young people into good jobs serving the local area.
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“If we can get people who represent the local community to provide care they will be better served to tend to their needs,” he said.
“We see quite a lot of young people in Barking and Dagenham who are quite technology literate and we want to help get them into the work force and create those opportunities for them to use their skills and hopefully offer jobs to local people.”
The project management team are already working closely with Professor John Young, NHS England’s Director for Integration and Frail Elderly Care, as well as experts in Canada, Australia and America, while the complex has attracted more than £2.5million in investment so far.
Steve, who said Care City could be the “third leg of the stool” behind MedCity and Tech City, hopes to find a suitable plot to build a custom-made shell which will then adapt and grow to meet the needs of the centre.
He believes having a healthcare juggernaut on their doorsteps will encourage residents to take better care of their own health and help address the borough’s issues with obesity, smoking, alcohol and diabetes.
“NEFL is in a sense helping create a local solution to a much bigger problem and that is what we should be doing,” he said.
“We have an obligation to try and help create sustainable care and it is in our interest for the local community to take a greater handle on their health and wellbeing.”
For now, though, it’s a case of watch this space at the business plan will be presented to the council later this month ahead of land development opportunities beginning to be considered in August.