Dorset LEP funds new state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre at AECC University College

In a major boost to healthcare innovation and allied health professions in Dorset, Dorset LEP has announced £2.7m of funding towards the creation of a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre at AECC University College.

The new Integrated Rehabilitation Centre is set to be a national leader for community rehabilitation, bringing much needed capacity for rehabilitation services to the region. It will aim to offer patients with multiple conditions (for example musculoskeletal problems together with other issues) coordinated access to different clinical services and diagnostic tests within one facility so they can be supported to overcome their co-existing problems.

Dorset LEP funding for the centre comes from Dorset LEP’s £11.8m award of the government’s ‘Getting Building Fund’ that supports the delivery of infrastructure projects to boost economic growth and fuel local recovery and jobs.

Utilising £3.1m of match-funding, the new Integrated Rehabilitation Centre at AECC University College is expected to result in the creation of 16 new jobs, 75 new learners and an increased turnover of £1.3m.

Lorna Carver, Director of Dorset LEP, said: “The new Integrated Rehabilitation Centre at AECC University College will provide holistic support in one place. It will provide facilities to enhance student placements allowing them to study and practise in a multi-disciplinary community-based environment. This investment aligns to Dorset LEP’s agenda of promoting Dorset as an area with huge opportunities linked to the health agenda and health tech innovation. It is an important part of Dorset’s recovery plan.

“As well as expanding on Dorset’s excellent reputation for healthcare innovation, this new centre will help address current skills gaps and lead to improved healthcare services and job creation in the sector. It will also play an active role in supporting the economic regeneration of Boscombe.”

Run by staff at AECC University College, in partnership with the NHS and other local healthcare providers, the Integrated Rehabilitation Centre will combine a fully integrated rehabilitation clinic with leading-edge teaching and applied research. This will create new treatment approaches and service improvements. It is also expected that the centre will see an increased number of healthcare professionals graduating from AECC University College, helping to improve economic and social activity, and reducing the burden on health and social care budgets.

The centre will be located at the Garnet Campus which is directly across the road from the main AECC University College campus in Boscombe, near the existing Chiropractic Clinic and Diagnostic Imaging facilities that are able to support approximately 1,000 patient contacts per week for the local community.

Professor Lesley Haig, Vice-Chancellor of AECC University College, said: “We are delighted to be announcing such an exciting development. We are uniquely well-placed to establish and manage a centre like this, dedicated to improving the quality of life of local people.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has created immediate challenges for health and social care services, including supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of patients during and after COVID-19. This will just add to the pressures that are already on the services from an ageing population, increased obesity and mental health problems. Community rehabilitation can help address some of these challenges in a cost effective and patient-centred way.

“The new facilities will also enhance placement opportunities for our students and those from other higher education providers. The facilities will allow us to grow provision into new areas in allied health, advanced clinical practice and other areas and specialisms in response to the demands of the local and regional health and care workforce.”

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership is a business led private and public sector partnership, promoting local economic growth and prosperity. Dorset LEP deliver projects that support and develop infrastructure, housing, skills, enterprise and business growth to achieve long-term economic benefit for all in Dorset.

For more information visit the Dorset LEP website.

Councillor Philip Broadhead, Deputy Leader & Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning at BCP Council, commented: “This Integrated Rehabilitation Centre is great news for our conurbation. Not only will it enable more local people to access the specialist services that it will provide, but it will also help with the ongoing regeneration of Boscombe, creating a world-class facility dedicated to improving people’s health and welfare, right on our doorstep.

“We want to harness the potential of our coastline of opportunity and make the BCP area a place where people and businesses want to be. This investment into AECC University College will create a leading health facility that will help strengthen our economy by creating jobs as well as sending out skilled graduates to work in the local health and social care sectors. Central to our Big Plan is the commitment to our vibrant communities with wellbeing, good health and care, and good local services integral. Now more than ever, the impact of COVID-19 is seeing increasing numbers of people needing these services, both physically and mentally, so I’m delighted that funding has been awarded for the AECC University College to build this important facility in Boscombe.”