A MAJOR new health hub, combining Carlisle's so-called super surgery with other NHS services, could be built in the city.

Doctors have unveiled their vision for a multi-million pound development in south Carlisle.

The three-storey building would incorporate 60 practice rooms, house 50 staff and treat 35,000 patients.

Services would include GP access, physiotherapy, community mental health and many others.

However funding has yet to be secured - and it is likely to be years before it is built.

GPs from the Carlisle Healthcare practice - formed when the Brunswick House, St Paul's and North Carlisle surgeries merged - are behind the initiative.

It is working alongside United Healthcare Developments (UHD), NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS England.

Initial planning consent for the integrated healthcare hub has just been granted by Carlisle City Council.

The next step will be to draw up a detailed business plan, which is needed to secure NHS funding.

Carlisle Healthcare currently operates from five sites across the city.

Its eventual aim is to reduce that to three - one in the north, one in the city centre and another in south Carlisle.

The latter goal has prompted the health hub vision.

Chris Proctor-Smith, operations director at UHD, said they have been working with GPs in the city - initially led by Brunswick House - since 2015, when they tendered for a potential developer.

The company was tasked with finding a suitable site for a new health hub, and came back with a shortlist.

This was whittled down, and the site at Locke Road - part of the Durranhill estate off Eastern Way - was chosen.

Following extensive discussions, UHD submitted an outline planning application, which has now been approved.

Mr Proctor-Smith explained the vision. "The health hub will modernise and transform care, providing more accessible and extended services, to improve the health and wellbeing of patients and communities in south Carlisle, as well as enabling the practice to work more efficiently to be better able to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for services," he said.

It ties in with wider local and national NHS plans to create local health hubs, called Integrated Care Communities (ICCs), and join up all aspects of care.

"We are really delighted to be involved with Carlisle Healthcare. This would be a flagship development for us," said Mr Proctor-Smith.

"We have been working with the GPs, CCG and NHS England since 2015. The need for new facilities was recognised way back then. As usual, funding is key.

"This is very much about meeting the pressing needs of south Carlisle and very much planning for the future. There are quite a lot of new houses going up in that part of Carlisle, and the garden village in the pipeline.

"It's still very early days. Realistically we are looking at a couple of years. It's all subject to funding."

Exactly what it would look like has yet to be decided, but he promised would be a state of the art building with ample parking.

"We are very committed to sustainable and efficient buildings," he said.

All of those involved in the project stress that there will be extensive public and patient consultation before any plans are finalised.

A Carlisle Healthcare spokesman confirmed that the health hub is a long term vision, subject to funding.

He explained: "Since our merge in October 2016, we have been looking at many ways to become more efficient and effective in our delivery of care to our patients.

"One issue is the fact that we are currently operating from five sites, with the obvious challenges and hurdles this presents.

"Therefore, for some time we have been working hard to develop a proposal that would consolidate the services onto three main sites.

"This also allows for improved and more effective services to patients, as well as addressing future sustainability concerns by providing teaching facilities for healthcare staff."

He added that they have looked at various sites, with this being the preferred location.

"We have been looking at potential sites, and have identified Eastern Way/Locke Road as being suitable for the Carlisle South Hub," he said.

"We would continue to operate from our existing facilities at Eden Street in the north of the city and St Paul’s Square in the city centre.

"However, we would like to emphasise that funding has still not been secured from NHS England and without this the Carlisle South Hub project can’t go ahead."