Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



Improving on PLACE ‘Best in the NHS’ score in Merseyside

St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (STHK) was a finalist in the 2019 HEFMA Awards for its teamwork to successfully retain its ‘Best in the NHS’ PLACE score from 2017 to 2018.   


STHK is a large Acute Trust delivering healthcare to around 350,000 people across two main hospital sites - Whiston and St Helens. In the 2017 PLACE audit, STHK achieved ‘Best in the NHS’. The challenge for 2018 was to make significant improvements to the patient environment and experience to retain that title for a second successive year.


The hospitals’ buildings, infrastructure Estates and Facilities Services are provided through the Trust’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Partnership with New Hospitals, Medirest and VINCI FM. The Estates and Facilities Partnership approach is "putting the patient at the heart of everything we do.” With this core value the joint approach to providing the Best Patient Environment in the NHS is what the teams strive to do every day. 


Retaining the ‘Best in the NHS’ position was an ambitious target, given the Trust’s financial challenges, meeting the NHS Cost Improvement Programme and service pressures. Nevertheless, expectations were high that this position should be maintained and there was a very focused determination to improve outcomes for the patients and visitors to the Trust’s sites. This ambition and drive to improve the patient environment and patients’ subsequent experience is embedded within all organisations involved in the PFI. 


All parties agreed to maintain the previous year’s standards in addition to a number of actions/projects to enhance the patient environment further. In order to finance these projects the team used service efficiencies and charitable funds to help achieve the outcomes. 


These included: 

• lnternal LED lighting schemes, simulating blue skies 

• Winning Tatton Flower Show Garden replanted on hospital grounds 

• Commemorative Memorial Garden for bereaved parents 

• Improved access to hospital gardens for patient therapy 

• Improved Dementia signage 

• Revised hospital menus to include Flash Cards for Dementia patients 

• Dementia orientation screen on the bed head systems 

• Improved seating in A&E  

• Redesigned maternity services - increased birthing pools.


In addition to PLACE the Trust has also won a number of other nationally recognised awards. In the BIFM Awards (The Professional Body for Facilities Management), the Trust’s Paul McNally of VINCI Facilities was named Best Newcomer. The Trust scooped Best NHS Hospital in the North West in Britain in Bloom in 2017 and 2018. At the Trust’s Recognition Awards ceremony its PFI partners won the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’. 


In retaining ‘Best in NHS’ PLACE Assessment outcome for 2018 the teams at the Trust completed all its service improvements and projects, which were implemented with involvement from patients and staff who will benefit from the changes. The work of the teams has had a positive impact on the hospital environment.


In 2016/ 2017 the Trust was the only NHS Trust in the entire country to receive a score of 100% for cleanliness.
In 2017/18 STHK was the best in the country with an overall score of 99%:

• 100% score for condition of the buildings 

• 100% score for cleanliness

• 100% score for facilities for people with disabilities. 


The Trust achieved and retained ‘Best in NHS’ by working closely with its PFI Partners, which makes it a very good – if not the best – example of how a good PFI contract should work. 


Ann Marr, Chief Executive of the Trust congratulated the teams for all their hard work. “The Trust’s staff work extremely hard to maintain the highest standards and these results highlight our commitment to providing high quality care for our patients in excellent facilities.”