As part of our ‘What If’ series on change in the NHS, we spoke to Turnaround and Transformation Director Phil Church and asked him: “Putting all politics aside, if you could change one thing about the NHS, what would it be?”
If I could change one thing…
The amount of NHS footprint that goes unused on a routine basis borders on the criminal and needs to change. Sadly, recent changes have taken away much of the local incentive to be proactive around use of estate, and costs are rising and management fees are increasing. ‘Use of estate’ is a measure nobody in the NHS is currently monitoring, even though the technology to do so cheaply, in real time, has been available for some time now.
I would pull everything related to estates and estate management out of NHS Property Services and hand it back to the Providers and Commissioners. I would then task them with making far better use of their estate than they do today. As part of that I would institute dynamic usage surveys; would set targets for building occupancy and usage; mandate the ratio of desks to employees to drive more flexibility around working practices; pull the bulk of middle and senior managers out of offices into more open plan environments; and review availability across the health (and maybe local government) asset stock rather than looking at individual organisations in isolation.
Proposals for innovative approaches to improved usage would be pump primed and shared across the sector. The freed up estate identified would then be sold at commercially favourable prices and the cash retained by health and social care economies.
Phil has been active in all areas of healthcare, public and private for over 12 years now. During that time, usually operating as a Turnaround or Transformation Director, Phil has supported Acute Trusts, PCTs and latterly CCGs, Community and Primary Care organisations, Care Trusts, CSUs and several private healthcare providers. He is originally finance-trained but has spent a good part of his career in sales and business development roles.
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