NHS buildings still in use but deemed unfit for purpose will be transformed into a state of the art facility under new plans.

The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) has launched plans to develop the East Brighton ‘Brighton General’ site in Elm Grove into a “health hub”.

Part of the site is still expected to become the proposed new free school being created by the University of Brighton. Those plans and discussions with the council remain unaffected. The school, if it goes ahead, will be housed in the Arundel building.

The trust has promised to work with patients and staff to bring existing services into modernised accommodation at the same site which could include new health and care facilities such as GP services or community inpatient beds.

The site, owned and maintained by SCFT, was originally built as a workhouse in the 1850s. It became a general hospital in 1948 but by 2009 the wards no longer met the relevant standards and there have not been hospital services on the site since then.

The site currently houses a range of community, mental health, rehabilitation and outpatient services. It also accommodates a number of administrative and support staff. The trust said the current buildings are no longer fit for the delivery of modern health and care services. Many buildings are decaying badly, are damp and provide inflexible layouts originally designed for Victorian workhouse buildings.

A spokesman said: “Feedback from patients and service users has highlighted that clinical areas are fragmented, the site is difficult to navigate and that the overall environment is not welcoming. “Buildings are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain as they age, diverting funds from the local health budget that would be much better spent on frontline NHS service delivery and patient care.

Siobhan Melia, Chief Executive of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, said despite still being in use the buildings and facilities “have long since ceased to be fit for purpose”.

She added: ““We think our patients, their carers and our staff deserve better and this project gives us an exciting opportunity to redesign the site in a way that makes sense and brings our buildings and facilities up to the standard we want and need to truly provide 21st century care.

“Today we are launching a programme of staff, patient and stakeholder engagement to keep everyone who has an interest, or may be affected, informed about the progress of the project and involved in key discussions. This is a highly complex programme of work and nothing is going to change in the immediate future but our intention is to move forward with as much pace as is realistically possible to deliver a modern and flexible healthcare facility for patients from within Brighton and Hove and across Sussex.”

To take the development forward, SCFT will now create four workable options that can be narrowed down with input from patients, carers, local people and staff. This will include a ‘do nothing’ and ‘do minimum’ option in order for the Trust to understand the full impact of any changes.

During this phase, Sussex Community Trust will continue to engage with staff, patients and the wider public. This will include presentations and drop-in briefings, the distribution of written and online materials and information, and mechanisms for people to ask questions and contribute their thoughts and ideas to the project team.

The Trust is also working closely with a number of partners, including the local authority, to consider whether, as part of the redevelopment, land can be released for other projects and services that could benefit the local community.

The SCFT Board of Directors is looking to make a decision on which option to take forward based on all of this work by the summer of 2018. The preferred option will be put forward as part of a formal document known as an ‘Outline Business Case’. This plan will need to be approved by the national ‘NHS Improvement’ organisation before it is put forward for public consultation to achieve planning consent.