£100m health centre planned for King's Hall in Belfast could treat 40,000 patients
A new healthcare facility planned for the King's Hall - the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland - will be able to treat 40,000 patients as part of a huge plan to relocate GP services in south Belfast, it can be revealed.
The huge 16-acre site, which will include a care home, hotel and leisure areas, is aiming to be a "one-stop shop" for healthcare.
Former Health and Social Care Board chief executive John Compton - a non-executive director - has said the £100m development will also help alleviate problems with A&E, with some ailments being dealt with at the King's Hall site.
"Absolutely. If you are managing things like diabetes, for example, you could cut the number of admissions of people going to hospital, you could cut the number of drugs people are taking," he said.
Funding is already in place, with plans due to be submitted early next year. And it's been revealed national elderly care charity Abbeyfield has been appointed to run the care home element.
Benmore Healthcare Developments chief executive David Burrows said it is in "detailed discussions with two hotel operators" new to Northern Ireland.
"Our view and strategy is to create this as an overall health and well-being park, led by primary care services, expanding that out with a care home, assisted living, putting a hotel on site to bring amenity into the area, multi-storey car park and then a plaza, a public space area, with cafe and restaurants, with a small element of independent health care," Mr Burrows said.
"Effectively what we are doing is looking at relocating the existing Dunluce and Finaghy health centres, both of which have been in the community for a while."
Mr Compton said that 75%-80% of residents in the Lisburn Road area who were involved in a consultation support the scheme.
He said the current state of how Northern Ireland handles the care of older people is "not that good", and the new plans are in line with recommendations as part of the Transforming Your Care and Bengoa reports.
"This is the sort of change that people want to see," he said.
"What really changes is how we receive our healthcare, how you provide care for older people, and also do you create an opportunity at primary health and social care level, to do things differently," he said.
He said the current GP surgeries at Finaghy and Dunluce Avenue are "not fit for purpose" and a green light for the move to relocate the services to the King's Hall development would come from the Health and Social Care Board.
And Mr Compton said more than 70% of people currently using the two existing south Belfast surgeries will be closer to the new King's Hall site.
"There isn't an issue in terms of travel," he said.
"The majority of GPs have indicated that they want to come, you could have up to 40,000 patients using this one building.
"Once you get that scale, you have the opportunity to manage the handling of diabetes differently, handling of chronic obstructive airways, all differently, and supporting people... around it you can put a support structure," he added.