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NHS Estates 2023: Updating the modern maintenance standard

8 Feb 2023

With a £3.7bn package to upgrade NHS infrastructure firmly on the radar of healthcare professionals this week, our principal building surveyor, Amit Vadgama, shines a spotlight on the everyday maintenance being completed across the East and West Midlands, which is positively contributing to the health and wellbeing of our local communities.

An overhaul mandate

Outdated, dilapidated and in need of investment. These were the challenges lobbied at the government when it launched its Health Infrastructure Plan in October 2020. Since then, and through pandemic inflicted challenges, a rigorous programme has been implemented that aims to deliver 40 new hospitals across the UK by 2030.

As part of our commitment to deliver expertise to the healthcare sector, Pick Everard has been appointed to the NHS Property Services Framework. Through this framework, we undertake vital maintenance services with local health centres and facilities, under a programme of work that often goes under the radar amid industry infrastructural overhaul.

Part of our remit is to keep hubs of community health operational, particularly during times of urgent care. The pandemic has only shone further light on how integral our medical professionals and healthcare centres are to this mission, often opening or working for extended hours, or adapted in times of need.

For example, many local practices were reformatted as COVID vaccinations centres, balancing everyday care with dedicated support for national need. This places increased importance on components such as boilers, which power the everyday necessities crucial to these environments, such as hot water. Meanwhile, insulation and lighting maintenance ensures facilities can run safely and securely for every day or extended operations.

Funding shortfall

Most commonly, cost has been the biggest obstacle facing local authorities in the past. The funding announcement two years ago will have no doubt come as a huge relief for health centre managers, who were staring at huge costs to replace old infrastructure in need of urgent attention.

Often, we are finding the facilities we are working with require not just big component changes, such as boiler replacement, but also everyday improvements that make a huge difference to modern healthcare standards.

Gutter cleaning, fire alarm replacement and window repairs are elements that often go unnoticed but play a huge role in ensuring healthcare facilities remain operational. Changes are also being driven by sustainability remits, with elements like LED lighting helping to not only brighten environments and cut carbon, but also reduce overhead costs in times of need.

Setting regional standards

Improvements also have an influential nature across local authorities. When speaking with clients, we often find there is a clear drive to ensure each council’s respective communities are maintained and cared for through setting positive standards. Cross collaboration, or influence in this manner is only a constructive step, providing regional benchmarks for others to follow.

At the NHS Estates 2023: Effectively Transforming the Healthcare Estate event this week, one of the keynote speeches will place precedence on reviewing capital funding on the maintenance programme. We would encourage here that emphasis is placed on ensuring no gaps are felt within communities, which can often feel aggrieved when funding is prioritised unevenly between districts, or in new areas of healthcare over existing, valued infrastructure.

A community first approach

New facilities within the healthcare sector will always attract the headlines, simply due their inherent ability to start from scratch and build with forward thinking technology front and centre of design approaches. For example, many new healthcare facilities are incorporating green heating solutions, such as heat pumps, while no-touch technology has seen massive expansion from the lessons of the pandemic.

However, it is vital within the healthcare conversation that we do not forget about our local practices, and the hardworking professionals and patients they support. Incremental improvements add up to a greater sum of their parts, and by taking the time to fix leaking gutters, or inefficient lighting, the sector is making small gains in the wider quest to overhaul the NHS Estates catalogue.

At Pick Everard, we continue to engage with local authorities on their healthcare requirements, driven by an ambition to deliver better together and collaborate on maintenance improvements that ultimately drive value at the heart of our communities, and build a safe and healthy future for all.

For the latest news, please go to our insights section, or contact us to discuss your healthcare projects.