Royal Marsden: The power of the pause in improving patient care

by Gabriella Sharp - Senior Consultant
| minute read

The COVID pandemic, in particular the national lockdowns, resulted in an increased demand for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Our front-line NHS workers are now in a period of transition from the unprecedented challenges of protecting vulnerable patients from COVID, into a busy recovery phase.  

To address the task at hand, whilst implementing the changes required by the NHS Integrated Care Service, many hospital trusts are looking to develop and improve new ways of working to create a motivated and digitally-enabled workforce that is empowered to optimise performance.

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust recognised the scale of the challenge, and the team had a particular focus in preparation for a new, state-of-the-art research and treatment facility, the Oak Centre.  The centre will help The Royal Marsden to diagnose more cases at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful, and to accelerate the development of new treatments for cancer for patients all over the world.    The Kuok Group Foundation Research Centre in the new facility will bring together over 400 researchers under the same roof as patients and clinicians, in spaces designed to encourage collaboration between researchers and to put patients at the heart of research.

The team at The Royal Marsden recognised the importance of the workforce and the workplace in delivering excellent patient care, and identified several challenges and opportunities that will support the Trust in moving forward with a strategic plan which will enable them to meet their ambitious objectives:

  • Define the future ways of working
  • Leverage digital innovation to improve patient care
  • Optimise the use data to empower decision-making

The Research and Development team approached Sopra Steria to assist them in defining an aspirational vision for their future ways of working. We worked with them on a programme to help the team understand the key steps needed to achieve the core objectives, building on both the successes and lessons of the pandemic, whilst leveraging the opportunity to integrate digital innovation and explore new solutions to challenges.​

Our approach

Sopra Steria took a user-centric approach, developing insights through listening to, and collaborating with, the Research and Development staff throughout the project to understand their as-is state and future vision. Focus groups, workshops and interviews highlighted the need to take a holistic view of the estate; combining estate management, organisational change and transformation, and technology to drive progress towards their vision.

With Sopra Steria’s extensive business transformation experience, we were able to support the Royal Marsden team by enabling the team to pause, reflect and fully explore the challenges they faced. The next step was to define and prioritise their core objectives and identify the needs of key stakeholders to develop the following aspirational vision statement that would engage everyone involved:

“We have a working environment and culture that attracts and retains the best in class and empowers and enables staff to succeed.

Our flexible use of space, technology, ways of working and talent drives our innovation, speeding up the translation of world-leading research into breakthroughs in care, transforming the lives of cancer patients at The Royal Marsden and beyond.”

The outcome

The programme has enabled the team to collaborate, understand the challenges, identify the gaps and opportunities and create an aligned vision which will form the foundation of their strategic plan.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the Sopra Steria team. From initial conversations, there was a very collaborative approach from the team, always seeking to understand and remain aligned with the Trust’s objectives for the work. The workshop sessions were well received by the Trust staff that engaged with the project, appreciating the opportunity to contribute and at the same time learn how to collaborate using technology in a different way. The workshops captured over 2,000 comments and 200+ ideas over series of interviews and workshops demonstrating the level of engagement achieved by the workshop facilitation.

We now have a staff-led response to new ways of working and our next steps will be to determine how as an organisation we harness that feedback and find alignment with organisational values and objectives and start to build towards implementing new ways of working. Our next step is to capture the feedback and adopt many of the principles to start to shape the design of a new workspace for the R&D team in a brand-new building. Based on the feedback from staff, we are confident in moving away from a direct one desk per person allocation model whilst assuring we can encourage team activity and wellbeing in the workplace. At the same time, we will be sharing the outcomes of the engagement work with our Senior Executive colleagues to start to define a Trust vision for the future with regards to new ways of working.”

Chris Jackson. Head of Facilities at The Royal Marsden



With the world changing at unprecedented rates, the demand for new technology, innovation and new ways of working has never been higher.  The challenge faced by The Royal Marsden in respect of its workforce, is the same challenge faced throughout the NHS.  As organisations consider how their estate portfolio can support the post pandemic world and address the expectations that its people have, it is important that the other business challenges also impacting a property portfolio are dealt with holistically. 

Within the NHS, the establishment of the Integrated Care Service will require coordination of services, assets, infrastructure, and estate so that the health and care needs of a demographic can be responded to quickly and efficiently.  The divisions between hospitals, GP’s the NHS and council services need to be overcome in order to coordinate services, improve population health and reduce inequalities within different groups.  A people-first approach is essential in order to seamlessly embed the cultural and behavioural changes needed to embrace innovative, highly disruptive technologies and support new ways of working in today’s digital world. It starts and ends with data, integrating existing data sources and systems into a complementary ecosystem of services that focus on improving patient care. 


About Sopra Steria

At Sopra Steria, we help clients to optimise their physical estates through true digital transformation. Sopra Steria's consulting capability works closely with organisations to drive that change and achieve outstanding results.  We think outside the box to shape and deliver strategies that have positive business outcomes.  We combine fresh thinking and insight with a diverse mix of skills, experience and capability to design intelligent and innovative solutions that deliver lasting value.

Every organisation has different needs to address, which is why we help to navigate your challenges and tailor a solution to fit.  Our user centric approach allows us to fully explore the challenges that organisations may face as well as your objectives, stakeholders, operations and assets, including your data and expertise.  Our strong business transformation experience, solutions and services underpins our ability to support you in your meeting your goals by equipping you with meaningful data and by developing a pragmatic plan to transform the way you manage your estate, and in turn deliver truly impactful outcomes.




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