Patients, staff and volunteers have celebrated the official opening of Bicester Community Hospital.

The hospital – a joint project between NHS Property Services and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group – features latest healthcare design and offers 12 individual rooms – each with direct access to a central garden.

Facilities include a minor injuries unit, x-ray and physiotherapy suites, as well as space for other therapies and out-of-hours care to be delivered.

Patients have been looked after in the new hospital since December last year, when it opened its doors after 18 months of construction.

Retired local GP Dr Richard Stephenson unveiled a plaque during a short ceremony attended by local NHS staff and supporters. Dr Stephenson came to Bicester in 1969 and retired after 33 years as a family doctor in the town in 2002.

He was always closely involved in developments at the previous Community Hospital – most notably in the setting up of an x-ray clinic, when he led a £10,000 appeal with the Bicester Hospital League of Friends to install the machinery.

Dr Stephenson said: “Our focus is on the wonderful support the people of Bicester have given over the years to the hospital and how much they appreciate the service it offers.”

There has been a community hospital in Bicester for more than 100 years and residents were keen to see a new one built. The procurement of the new hospital was agreed in 2011 by predecessor NHS organisations, including the former Oxfordshire PCT and South Central Strategic Health Authority.

A competitive process saw Kajima Partnerships selected as the preferred development bidder, with Balfour Beatty as builders and FES FM as facilities managers. The project was taken up by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Property Services when they came into existence in April 2013. Work began on-site in June 2013.

Clinical services within the building are provided by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust are also on site.

Robin Williams, Chairman of NHS Property Services, said: “Many achievements are born of partnership – and this new facility has been an excellent example of bringing together all the essential components of the modern NHS – commissioners, providers and crucial enablers, such as NHS Property Services – for the benefit of local patients and their families.

 “Our joint goal was to provide an outstanding patient experience. As part of that, we sought input from staff, patients and their families. We asked for practical advice on how to improve the environment and included this feedback in our final design.

“The hospital is environmentally conscious, incorporating natural light inside and this wonderful garden outside. It is easier than its predecessor to maintain, clean and manage, while also being more adaptable to changing needs and technologies.

“NHS Property Services knows residents expect excellent health care buildings and when they visit this hospital, we hope and trust the community will be impressed.”

Dr Stephen Attwood, a Bicester GP and Oxfordshire CCG board member, said: “It is fantastic that we are all here for the official opening of Bicester Community Hospital, which was originally commissioned by the CCG.

“This has been a long journey and I want to thank everyone for being part of it. Working with our partner organisations on this development has been a great achievement.

“The new building is a modern facility for the people of Bicester and surrounding areas. The facilities are wonderful for patients, their families and carers, and the environment is very fresh and spacious – we are truly delivering modernised healthcare.”

Martin Howell, Chairman of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This hospital has a long history of serving the people of Bicester and we are delighted that the new facility will allow it to continue doing so for many years to come.

“The fact that we are standing here now is testament to the tireless campaigning of a lot of people and so I want to take this opportunity to thank them.

“I also want to thank all the staff who work in the hospital – the nurses, the occupational therapists and the physiotherapists – who continue to offer an invaluable service to the people of Bicester.”

Article reproduced with the kind permission of NHS Property Services. Click here for original.