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Health and well-being centre to open in Barnsley shopping centre

Council-led partnership brings health to the high street, including some Barnsley Hospital outpatient services.

An ambitious plan to move health services into Barnsley high street aims to enhance accessibility, reduce missed appointments – which cost the NHS money – and improve health outcomes for local people. 

Bob Kirton (Managing Director of Barnsley Hospital), Sarah Norman (Chief Executive of Barnsley Council), Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE (Leader of Barnsley Council) and Michael Hirst (Chief Executive of BPL) at the Alhambra Shopping Centre, photo courtesy of Barnsley Council

Bob Kirton (Managing Director of Barnsley Hospital), Sarah Norman (Chief Executive of Barnsley Council), Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE (Leader of Barnsley Council) and Michael Hirst (Chief Executive of BPL) at the Alhambra Shopping Centre, photo courtesy of Barnsley Council

The initiative is being led by Barnsley Council, which last year purchased the leasehold of the centrally located Alhambra Shopping Centre. The centre will now host a health and well-being hub, which the council has developed inc collaboration with the Alhambra, as well as Barnsley Hospital, Barnsley Premier Leisure (BPL), South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYFT), South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) and the Glass Works shopping centre – the latter a recent £220m redevelopment which included a new library, market hall, cinema, restaurants, shops and public spaces. 

The council estimates that more than 100,000 visits a year could be transferred from Barnsley Hospital to the Alhambra, which would reduce traffic and pressure on parking in the vicinity of the hospital. This will also bring more visitors into the town centre, which can then reap economic benefits.  

In addition, BPL are developing a ‘feel good’ hub: a fun, friendly space boasting multiple fitness, health and well-being activities that is anticipated to attract some 150,000 visitors per year.  

Partner organisations will also be able to host events and activities in related community spaces. 

The new hub will build on the success of the existing NHS Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) operated by Barnsley Hospital within the Glass Works shopping centre, which opened in April 2022. The CDC offers services including CT scans, ultrasounds, x-ray and blood services. There’s evidence that this central and convenient location makes a considerable difference – as just one example, since the CDC opened there has been a 22% increase in breast screening appointments. 

The whole project is part of Barnsley’s Council’s wider effort to regenerate and diversify the high street.  

Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, says: ‘Once again, Barnsley is leading the way by using innovative approaches to make health services more accessible to the people of Barnsley.   

‘We’re delighted to announce our plans to create a health and wellbeing hub at the Alhambra Shopping Centre, benefiting the whole community. This is a great example of how we’re working with our partners to use our town centre assets and deliver high-quality services and facilities for our residents. The health and wellbeing hub will improve our people’s health and wellbeing and boost the footfall and vibrancy of our town centre.   

‘Barnsley is a bold and innovative place that is leading the way in high street regeneration, and we are proud of what we’re achieving together.’ 

Bob Kirton, Managing Director of Barnsley Hospital, adds: ‘Feedback from staff and patients has consistently demonstrated Barnsley town centre is a popular and convenient location for healthcare appointments. Located within a short distance from bus routes and with easy access to nearby parking, bringing healthcare to the high street will not only help reduce missed appointments, but will also improve health outcomes for people who will be more able to access vital services in a place familiar to them.’ 

Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire, says: ‘The health inequalities we face in South Yorkshire are stark. But we’re investing to tackle that challenge head on, by making access to healthcare easier.’ 

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