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Moorfields’ new eye care centre receives “milestone” approval

Camden Council has passed a resolution to approve planning permission for the Oriel project, which will integrate research and patient care in a new facility at the St Pancras Hospital site


Camden Council has made a resolution to grant planning permission for the Oriel project – a new centre which will bring together eye care, research and education into a purpose-built facility at St Pancras Hospital in Camden.

The Oriel project is a joint initiative between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IoO) and Moorfields Eye Charity, which would see Moorfields’ services and UCL IoO relocate from their current buildings in Islington to the new facility on the St Pancras Hospital site (subject to approval by the Greater London Authority).

Designs for the purpose-built centre were revealed last year, made by lead architect, Penoyre & Prasad, with AECOM providing engineering and sustainability insight and White Artkitekter developing interiors and landscaping.

Engagement on the planned centre is ongoing with events planned throughout the summer to involve staff, patients and partner organisations in the building’s interior design.

Calling the council’s decision “truly a significant milestone for Oriel and the future of patient-centred eye care,” David Probert, chief executive of Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The new eye health centre will be a world first and has been designed to accommodate the greatest integration between research and patient care.”

Probert added that “collaboration is key to this project,” and that Moorfields will continue to work with staff, patients and partners in ensuring the new centre will be fit-for-purpose and a “beacon of excellence for patient-focused eye care.”

Professor Alan Thompson, dean of the UCL faculty of brain sciences, suggested the new location in Camden’s Knowledge Quarter would maximise opportunities for collaborative working.

He shared: “With common eye conditions expected to rise rapidly over the next 15 years, we need to plan for the future. Oriel promises to deliver a more collaborative working environment that will support our translational ‘bench to bedside’ research through the co-development of research and early involvement of clinicians and patients.”

The proposals have received a “green light” from the Treasury, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and the Department for Health and Social Care – securing £18 million in funding from the latter in 2018. The partners suggested these approvals means the detailed work on designing the new centre can “build momentum.”

Minister for Health, Edward Argar MP, said Camden Council’s resolution to grant planning approval was an important next step for the project. He said: “The Oriel eye centre will enable London to deliver world-leading patient care and scientific research under the same roof, as part of the biggest hospital infrastructure programme in a generation to build back better.”