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“Is this a rallying call? Yes, it absolutely is”

These were the closing words from the presentation that HEFMA National Chair, Paul Fenton, delivered to the 2017 National Leadership and Development Forum of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) in Belfast (April 5-7).

Fenton's keynote presentation directly tackled Delivering the Future from the perspective of NHS England. The drivers for change, he summed up as including the Carter Review, Sustainability & Transformation Plans (STPs), the growing elderly population, customer expectations, more integrated social care to prevent bed blocking and the mismatch between the design of many of England’s hospitals and the demands of a 21st Century healthcare system. Additional drivers specifically for Estates & Facilities Management (EFM) are the recent Naylor review, CQC, standards such as the Hospital Food Standards and PAM, under which the patient now has the right to be cared for in a safe environment.

Fenton described the Carter review as: “ground-breaking,” and summed up some of the key findings/challenges, focusing on the Model Hospital and the extent of the difference in catering and cleaning costs between the highest and lowest spending Trusts and calling for an Integrated Performance Framework to be embedded.

Fenton also referred to the recently published report on the progress of the Five Year Forward View (FYFV) and the Naylor Review. Highlights of the Naylor Review include the recommendations that vacated NHS Estate should be prioritised for NHS staff housing where there is a need, sale receipts should be kept by NHS Trusts and a 2 for 1 capital investment incentive should see the Treasury match the value of land disposal.

According to the FYFV, the next steps for NHS England include improvements in cancer care, mental care and a focus on enabling improvements through technology and innovation. He highlighted Point 7 on the 10 Point Efficiency Plan, which focuses on 'Estates, infrastructure, capital and clinical support services' and stressed this is recognition that EFM is back at the forefront of services in the NHS.

Addressing the question of how the NHS delivers the future, Fenton said intelligent EFM services were necessary, with an enabled workforce, data gathering, software to manage services, collaboration with other Associations and smart asset management. He questioned whether the NHS should own assets at all, highlighting the success of Uber Taxis, even though Uber does not own a single taxi.

At the heart of delivering the future is recognition of the importance of EFM, patient engagement and believing in the vision and strategy to create the desired patient experience, which must be embedded in the culture, communicated and measured. Above all, it is about having a positive attitude and showing strong leadership.