Global first NHS high-tech centre for children’s health coming to Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park - Mayor donates £6m
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The National Centre for Child Health Technology (NCCHT) at the venue in Attercliffe is being developed by Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Sheffield City Council and property firm Scarborough Group International.
The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority will contribute £6m of the £20m funding to build the centre, which was announced today (February 2) by Mayor Oliver Coppard at a press conference in the Olympic Legacy Park’s new community stadium. The mayor said: “We’ve got 1.4 million people in this region. We’ve put money into this because it will contribute to the wellbeing of children and young people.”
The Mayor said he is committed to making South Yorkshire the healthiest region in the country. “Sites like this are central to that vision and how we are going to get there.”
Children’s Hospital chief executive Ruth Brown said that the move is very exciting. She hopes that work will start later this year and the centre will open in 2025.
Ruth said that the hospital will be bringing some of its clinical services to the new centre, where technologies will be developed to address key strategic priorities in children’s health in new ways. These are prevention and health inequalities, mental health, obesity, long-term conditions, cancer and disability.
“We will be creating a partnership between patients, children and young people with clinicians and experts, academia and industry,” said Ruth. “There will be spaces where they can work alongside each other to design new ways of treatment for the future.”
Ruth said that discussions had been going on for eight years to create the centre, involving the NHS and the Olympic Legacy Park. She praised the work of Professor Peter Dimitri at the Children’s in spearheading the project.
“He’s really driven forward what a vision could be about something that is part of an eco system in Sheffield on the Olympic Legacy Park. You’ve got a school, sports facilities and the Hallam University here.
“The new national centre will be a beacon of the Olympic Legacy Park. We’re focused on children in South Yorkshire and the partnership will make a huge difference.
“We’re able to have people to work alongside each other to create what a new future could be.”
Ruth said that health inequalities in South Yorkshire are “huge” and the centre could make a big difference as a space reimagining how technology could be developed to improve children’s health in the future.
She said young people’s ideas would be key. “The children of today use technology in a way that’s completely different to our generations. Their minds work in different ways,” said Ruth. “That’s what’s really exciting.”
The NCCHT will also be a springboard for the next phase of the Olympic Legacy Park, said Mark Jackson of property specialists Scarborough Group International. Already a centre of innovation in sport, health and wellbeing, the next phase will see the addition of up to one million square feet of new commercial space.
It could be home to start-ups as well as more established companies and a new outdoor area, Flame Hill, will link the Olympic Legacy Park to the canal area.
Chair of the Olympic Legacy Park, former Sheffield MP and sports minister Richard Caborn, hosted the press conference. He was central to delivering the Olympic Legacy Park for Sheffield, the only facility of its kind outside a host city that is allowed to use the word Olympic.
Richard said he was approached by former council leader Julie Dore in 2013 because Don Valley Stadium was losing 750,000 a year. He said he brought together a partnership involving the council, city hospitals, universities, industrialists and local communities to look at what could work alongside the English Institute of Sport and sports science facilities in the area to replace the stadium.
He said that the Olympic Legacy Park has many benefits for the local community, especially its young people. “You could come to nursery at that school, go through it and get a PhD at the university next door.”
Richard continued: “We have the UTC (specialist academy and sixth form) with 3,000 young people there. They’ve got a fantastic opportunity to work with diagnostic imaging and research in the AWRC (Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre) with access to training that is second to none.
“We’re moving education from the west to the east of the city. There are kids going off from here to Cambridge and universities. There are all sorts of opportunities open particularly to kids, some of whom are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Their aspirations lift.”
Richard praised his “brilliant” team for their work and said: “There are opportunities there if the city realises them. If they don’t, that’s to their detriment.”
He said the reason for his success in bringing people together is “I don’t take no as an answer!”
Sheffield City Council leader Coun Terry Fox was one of the guests on a panel at the press conference. He said: “I am so pleased with the progress being made at the Olympic Legacy Park. As a council we’re proud to have been a part of this fantastic project for several years – helping partners to deliver it and giving them the freedom to do so.
“The future is bright for the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park and we look forward to what comes next.”