Plans for Oriel, a new state-of-the-art eye care, research and education centre, have been given the green light.
The joint initiative between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Charity, which will see services move to a brand-new integrated centre on the site of St Pancras Hospital, has now been given final NHS and government approval.
This significant milestone is the final step before construction starts in 2023 and it follows Camden Council granting full planning permission for the centre in August. The preferred contractor for the project, Bouygues UK, has developed a full construction programme with the building due to open in 2027.
The new centre – part of the New Hospital Programme, the biggest hospital building programme in a generation - will harness the expertise of the partners under one roof and will enable closer collaborative working between clinicians and researchers to speed up the delivery of the highest quality treatments and therapies for patients.
Tessa Green, Moorfields chairman, said: “This is an extraordinarily exciting moment for Moorfields. Thank you to our teams, our partners, our patients, our donors and our stakeholders. Your patience, determination and dedication over 10 years to the vision for Oriel has progressed it this far. I am so very proud of what we have together achieved and look forward to seeing Oriel built and open its doors to patients.”
UCL President & Provost Dr Michael Spence AC said: “This decision is a vital step forward for an incredibly exciting project that will bring together UCL’s formidable research base with Moorfields’ world-class healthcare delivery in a way that results in major academic and clinical benefits for people living with sight loss throughout the UK and across the world.”
Martin Kuper, Moorfields chief executive, said: “This is the final approval we have been waiting for, turning Oriel from a proposal into a reality. Our next step will be to start construction work in the new year to build our world-leading centre, which will support our reputation for excellence and our ability to deliver outstanding care for our patients."
Professor Alan Thompson, dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said: “I am absolutely delighted that our exciting plans for Oriel have been given the regulatory seal of approval. Oriel will allow us to drive forward the improvements to support our work in the long-term and strengthen our partnership with Moorfields in delivering real benefits for patients. This next phase of the project is exciting as we start building the Centre that will enable more collaborative and innovative working.”
Robert Dufton, Moorfields Eye Charity chief executive, said: “This is a real moment of celebration for us all. We’ve been working in partnership with our generous donors because philanthropy has a vital role in securing the future of eye health on a global scale. We believe the new centre is going to provide patients, who are at the heart of everything we do, with the best treatments, faster.”
The new centre will be located in the heart of the Knowledge Quarter, an internationally renowned hub for science and innovation. It is close to the UCL Bloomsbury campus and several of our NHS, commercial and charity partners.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I want every patient to have the best possible experience of our healthcare system and part of that is making sure we have the hospitals to deliver it. This government’s manifesto commitment will see us deliver the most ambitious hospital building programme in a generation, helping us to provide world-class healthcare. Working towards this goal, plans for a new state of the art eye care centre have been approved which will see vast improvement in treatment times, with the typical glaucoma appointment already set to be cut from 90 to 60 minutes. These new facilities, supported by over £500m of investment, will mean more people can be seen and help cut backlogs. By 2031/32, it is expected to deliver over a million appointments and procedures a year.
“The building itself will offer all appointments in closed rooms, giving patients the privacy, they deserve, and the latest technology will be utilised to help the visually impaired throughout their hospital trips. Investing in our hospital programme will transform lives for decades to come with patients getting access to facilities designed to deal with complex needs and procedures.”
Natalie Forrest, Senior Responsible Owner for the New Hospital Programme, said: "This state-of-the-art facility will transform eye care and health for people across the country and I'm delighted that Oriel has today been granted approval to move forward, enabling construction to start. This funding will enable the team to further improve the outstanding care they provide, offering a modern environment for clinical and non-clinical staff, patients, and visitors.
“Oriel is an early phase scheme as part of the New Hospital Programme, which marks a step-change in how we design and build new hospital facilities. By working together and taking a collaborative and forward-thinking approach we can help the country to deliver modern healthcare environments, faster, and to the highest standards.”