Golden nuggets from the National NHS Estates conference

| minute read

Last week, our team attended the National NHS Estates conference at the etc.venue in St Pauls, London.  Hosted by InsideGov, the focus was on sustainable estates and how technology, data and digital transformation are key enablers in helping the NHS solve the challenges they face, especially those accelerated by Covid-19 around the use of the estate. With the overhaul of the NHS capital budget, we explored the latest capital investment strategy and best practice policies related to the building of new purpose designed hospitals as well as learning more about the data journey that NHS has embarked on. Here we share our key take aways from what proved to be a very insightful day.

#1 Actionable data

Data was a reoccurring theme throughout the day and was summed up brilliantly by Karl Redmond, Strategic Estates Lead at NHS England.  Karl spoke about the need to use data and technology to drive change in the NHS, especially around the formation of an Integrated Care System.  We discussed how using the right technology is essential to drive collaboration and how important it is that necessary data is shared between systems early in the design and build phase, or in the refurbishment brief, to ensure the ‘golden thread’ of information is established and maintained across the whole asset lifecycle.

The importance of data has never been clearer and was reinforced by Karl who commented that “you must start small, think big and scale fast”.  At Sopra Steria, we believe that a technology enabled solution can unleash the value of an organisation’s data to develop a data driven property and people strategy. We do this with our digital transformation and integration expertise, to help customers optimise their physical estates through the use of Customer, Dynamic and Strategic insights with the end in mind around ‘measurable outcomes’. 

#2 User centric design

It was enlightening to hear the plans for the New Hospital Development programme, and the core framework based on the need to ‘design to operate’ rather than ‘design and build’. User centricity came through, with clearly thought-out scenarios that focused on the patient journey. How this translates into reality will be interesting to see, but the vision is inspiring.

#3 Integration and connected services

Victoria Cave, Deputy Director of Capital and Provider Finance at DHSC also conveyed the plans around capital spend and forthcoming projects.

It is clear that the NHS have real aspirations about improving patient services, reducing waiting times and driving efficiencies generally.   It was interesting to see what had been learnt through the pandemic, with requirements to use the NHS estate differently by splitting elective and non-elective care sites out into hot and cold areas to reduce clinical risk.

It was evident that however the money is spent, the NHS wants to ensure that all parts of the organisation are connected whether that be the data as mentioned by Karl, or the estate itself.   The newly created Integrated Care Services will be based on this premise; where new estate strategies will need to be adopted with the aim of better, smarter use of infrastructure and the full range of NHS assets being used.   To do this, the NHS must consider how care can be provided closer to home and how the services can be connected to provide better patient care and support.  To meet these objectives, it’s imperative to take advantage of the modern method of construction, optimise efficiencies through connected data, and use that insight to assess the way that the NHS uses its land generally. 

#4 Sustainability

A core focus which was also discussed is on creating a more flexible estate, which is not only Net Zero, but which also brings about better efficiencies and improved collaboration. Digital is the core enabler, as it can tackle the data hole around sustainability by leveraging technology and providing insights that are created from linking data from multiple sources across the estate. Through the use of digital technology, the NHS has the potential to help solve some of its biggest issues around climate change, air and water pollution, and resource shortages.

Another aspect here is managing the impact of the supply chain by working with partners and suppliers to embed best practices for sustainable and ethical business is one of the best places to start.  Both Andrew Strange​, Regional Partnership Director​, and Cameron Hawkins,​ Head of Energy and Environment​ at NHS Property, spoke about their vision of delivering a Greener NHS and plans to enable Net Zero Carbon by embedding environmental stewardship across NHS Property Services and their customers​​.  Here at Sopra Steria we know the value of driving cost and carbon efficiency ​through procurement, alongside the importance of building​ benchmarking​ and sustainability reporting​ into all our commercial arrangements.

Closing comments

The event was an ideal chance for our team to discuss strategic change and learn from some of the most well-respected public sector professionals in the UK. At Sopra Steria, our focus is very much aligned with the core components highlighted throughout the sessions, including optimising data integration and extracting insights, delivering on sustainability goals including Net Zero, developing Social Value programmes and integrating the future of work into strategic plans.

We’re really excited to see what could be learnt from the NHS as it embarks on its mammoth challenge of building 48 new ‘smart’ hospitals by the end of the decade, which is the biggest hospital programme of its nature. The programme will no doubt shine a light on the true value of data that can be realised within an integrated digital transformation approach - for the built environment and beyond.

If you’d like to find out more, please contact Caroline Hildreth.



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