Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital May Move To Widnes

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool has now formally announced that it may leave the city for Widnes, because of a local reluctance to supoprt plans for necessary expansion. Widnes doubtless has many attractions, but it cannot claim proximity to other internationally claimed medical institutions amongst them. Liverpool’s decision makers must wake up very soon indeed to the need to understand the critical importance of Big Science – which includes leading hospitals – to their local economy.
It’s now official: Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital, world leader in paediatric medicine, may have to move from Liverpool to Widnes because of local resistance to their plans to expand on the current site – even though there is a clear undertaking by the hospital to provide a well-planned and maintained ‘children’s health park’ within the extension proposals.
Let’s be clear. Alder Hey is NOT proposing that all the trees be cut down, and that they ruin a beautiful piece of parkland. The current park is truly nothing to be proud of; but the proposed new children’s health park would surely be. Indeed, it could, like its organisational base, be a shining example of how health, environment and education can come together.
Full marks to Widnes for spotting an opportunity which it seems has passed Liverpool by; but even Widnes itself presumably does not list amongst its attractions proximity to a world-class Medical School and the Royal Liverpool Teaching Hospital (see article on this website, 12 October).
Is Big Science also the last Big Secret, an invisible commodity which decision makers and planners at the local level just don’t see for what it is? Put together the budgets of the Royal, Alder Hey, the Medical School and, e.g., the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and you have a sum larger than that of many medium-sized towns – and an employment requirement which is hugely important to any local economy.
Let’s by all means assure local residents that they will get their trees back. (Maybe we also have to persuade the Council for the Protection of Rural England, who perhaps have a particular take here?) But let’s also show a bit of grown-up leadership.
Widnes can of course have its fair share of the deal – Alder Hey already has proposals for a number of service delivery sites around its area, called ‘Alder Hey at…’. Patient access is always a prime consideration; but that doesn’t just apply to Widnes.
In the end it’s in no-one’s interest to break up the personal and professional connections which have over the last several decades been carefully established by the practitioners working in Liverpool’s great hospitals and university.
It looks at present as though there is a lack of ‘scientific literacy’ of a very basic sort in the considerations of local decision makers. They don’t actually have to understand the science itself, but they certainly need to try very conscientiously to grasp the simple facts of scientific life: at base, there’s no synergy without connectivity – which includes opportunities on a day-to-day basis for outstanding medical scientists and practitioners to get together.
And, if this isn’t enough of an argument, who’s going to accept responsibility for the hundreds of less skilled hospital jobs which will go elsewhere, in one of the most disadvantaged parts of an already economically challenged city, when and if this absolutely unnecessary dispersal of international expertise occurs?

Posted on October 16, 2005, in Education, Health And Welfare, Knowledge Ecology And Economy, Liverpool And Merseyside, Politics, Policies And Process, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, Sustainability As If People Mattered. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. You cant move Alderhey to Wignes, the resistance should be more concerned about loseing the hospital wich belongs and is part of Liverpool and besides this it belongs to all the sick and injured children, what would happen if they the NHS said it was closing Alderhey ? there would be an uproar, so come on, they are deleloping a peaceful beautiful park for sick children YOUR Children not building a Motaway, who nows your child might need it specialist one day. there for the grace of God
    Jean Graham
    [Note from Hilary: You’ll be very pleased to know, Jean, that in the end everyone agreed with what you say here, and the hospital is to stay where it is.]

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