The feasibility study
The feasibility study conducted in late 2009 and throughout 2010 had to determine whether a new establishment on a new site could bring about such wholesale improvement in rehabilitative terms that it was worth moving from Surrey to a much larger site in the Midlands, strategically well placed to serve all parts of the UK. The Midlands site would have at its core a military establishment (the ‘D’ element) providing a unique Defence rehabilitation environment, replacing Headley Court. This Defence core would also provide the catalyst for a national resource – the ‘N’ element on the basis that there was acknowledgement that military rehabilitation expertise could be developed in partnership with the NHS and others to benefit the nation and the Commonwealth.
Throughout 2010 the concept and reality of a DNRC were comprehensively developed. The resulting designs reflected the latest guidance and space standards and took account of evidence from the Headley Court practitioners. At the end of 2010 it was judged that:
- A DNRC would build on the remarkable achievements of Headley Court, by offering substantial improvement in virtually all areas. It would provide an assured level of future care surpassing that offered by Headley Court’s current and planned facilities. It would provide purpose-built, flexible accommodation and new equipment to increase the range of possible interventions, and importantly, the space for technology insertion with a high degree of ‘future proofing’. The design would improve patient flows and efficiency, allowing more time for rehabilitation and continuity of care. There was found to be widespread support for the notion of civilian rehabilitation benefiting from close association with the Defence equivalent.
- The capital cost of acquiring a large site and constructing the new Headley Court within it was in the order of £300M. The cost of operating the new military establishment would continue to fall to the Government (about £21M a year) and with modern and environmentally efficient buildings it promised to be economical to run.
- There was fundamental merit in creating a DNRC – as a unique opportunity in terms of national policy, national mood and the generosity and drive of the Duke of Westminster as founding benefactor and lead fund raiser. The outcome in combining military and national assets on the same site promised to create an establishment that was unique in the world.
- UK Government Ministers supported this judgement and announced in the Autumn of 2011 that the next steps would be to embark upon a major fundraising campaign, led by the Duke, to raise the capital sum and acquire a suitable site – with a view, if successful on both counts, to opening a new establishment in the Midlands, named the 'Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre', in 2017.
- The Government’s authorisation to proceed with the ‘D’ element in its xxx 2014 statement was based on the assurances of the feasibility study and the conclusive evidence that developing the DNRC would deliver betterment in clinical rehabilitation.