Health of the Nation

Russell Burns
Smarter use of asset data will be crucial to the future of the NHS estate.

The NHS faces many challenges, with primary, secondary, mental health and social care all subject to the disruption of changing demographics, financial pressures, estate functionality and utilisation, and developing technologies.

There is no single solution to addressing these issues. However, there are a number of policy initiatives that help healthcare providers to understand which areas of the system are not performing as well as they could be. These include:

  • Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STPs) - the NHS and local councils have come together in 44 areas covering all of England, to produce local STPs for the next five years. The STPs identify gaps across health and social care. Examples of these gaps include improving health and wellbeing, improving the care provided and the quality of the service, budget pressures, culture, and the strategic role of the estate.
  • Estates and Technology Transformation Fund (ETTF) - a multi-million-pound programme to accelerate the development of infrastructure that improves and expands joined-up out-of-hospital care for patients. Additional capital beyond the ETTF will also be invested in general practice, bringing the overall total investment in capital assets up to 2020/21 to £900m.
  • Five Year Forward View for Mental Health - highlighted 58 key mental health service issues that need addressing. Many are service led, but estate modernisation is also key. CAMHS is one of several key specialist areas acknowledged as in need of major infrastructure investment.

Many stakeholders will need to be engaged in the efforts to address these broad issues, and very few of the relevant initiatives and bodies will be able to work in isolation. Cross-body coordination is needed, together with development of a collaborative culture that takes a holistic view of the challenges collectively faced within the wider community and its services.

...there are a number of policy initiatives that help healthcare providers to understand which areas of the system are not performing as well as they could be.

Faithful+Gould can make a difference to the estate-related tasks. The estate plays a significant part in the experiences of NHS service-users and staff, and is therefore critical to many of the issues facing health and public sector bodies. Our team can establish accurate baseline asset data for:

  • the client’s estate portfolio and what it contains
  • the estate’s condition
  • the estate’s functionality 
  • how well utilised the estate is

This is a complex task, and much depends on the client’s specific requirements. Clients may want to:

  • link to CAFM systems
  • review legal agreements
  • update maintenance backlog to keep asset plans refreshed
  • include provision for future capex build 
  • include forward maintenance planning

Faithful+Gould’s experienced teams can link strategic asset management requirements with appropriate building surveying services, providing usable dashboard-based outputs to help estate departments drive the estate strategy.

However, this approach should ideally be replicated across all participating partners and so consistency of data and its outputs is paramount. Clients potentially need to access suitable framework agreements in order to appoint consultants.

There are a number of frameworks available. Faithful+Gould is the single provider of multi-disciplinary professional consultancy services for Pagabo, for example, which is accessible to all public sector bodies. Pagabo not only facilitates appointment of ‘traditional’ estate consultancy teams, but also allows access to specialist services/consultants — healthcare planners, bid writers and other specialist partner organisations. Grant Thornton is one example of the specialisms within the scope of the framework — their Place Analytics online platform provides mapping, analysis and benchmarking to understand any UK location’s economy, society and environment from regional to postcode level.

The digital revolution will also change the way healthcare space is used.

A potential post-Brexit demographic change, coupled with a change to more community/federated model of care, calls for closer links across health and social care and estate. This means huge data crunching exercises, starting with smart and efficient data interrogation.

The digital revolution will also change the way healthcare space is used. Digitising patient records, for example, will free up huge amounts of filing space in GP surgeries, leaving the question of what to do with the space and who will pay for it.

A definitive solution to all problems is not possible, due to the scale of the issues coupled with the unique requirements of each public sector organisation across the country. However, the tools and skillsets are available to help public bodies identify their challenges and find compliant and efficient ways of procuring the skills to analyse their data and drive solutions. Faithful+Gould has the skills and experience to help clients start this journey, and lead them to better asset delivery and performance.