Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



Putting healthcare infrastructure on the front foot

Addressing the Healthcare Estates conference last week (October 10), Simon Corben, Director and Head of Profession, NHS Estates and Facilities Efficiency and Productivity Division said the role of Estates and Facilities Management (EFM) in healthcare is changing and it is high time the profession, and the importance of healthcare infrastructure occupied its rightful place on the 'front foot' of services.

Corben described what he termed a "pivotal place" for the NHS, with several influences coming together - the Carter report on efficiency and productivity, progress on the Five Year Forward View, STPs, the Naylor report on infrastructure, political uncertainty following the general election results and the tragic events at Grenfell Tower. These influences were referred to on several occasions throughout the conference programme. Since coming into post in April, Corben has concentrated on building a team equipped with the necessary experience to support the profession across the core sector needs of Policy, Operations, Commercial, Sustainability and Disposals. "The old model has to change," he said. "We can do that with better data and better leads."

An Analytics Lead with experience of ERIC returns has been appointed. PLACE results are to be incorporated into the Model Hospital. HEFMA and IHEEM will both be involved with work to develop apprenticeships - particularly within areas of soft FM. A full training programme is under consideration for 2018. Under the direction of Michael Bellas, policy issues will focus on many issues, including catering, food waste and fire.
Corben also warned of a new data call as part of an initiative to analyse the use of non-clinical space in more detail. Backlog maintenance - currently the subject of a report commissioned by NHSI with Loughborough University, the importance of understanding the true lifecycle costs of facilities and improving the use of technology are also high on the agenda. Above all, he argued for EFM to be more assertive, to use the Model Hospital as a key tool, and to take the opportunities for change. "We wait for clinical strategy at the moment, but we need to drive it by designing technical buildings and ensuring they don't fall into disrepair," he said. "With improved data and knowledge, we can put infrastructure on the front foot and that's what we need to do."
Corben's keynote presentation followed the welcome from IHEEM's President, Pete Sellars, who updated delegates on his agenda to raise the profile of the Institute and where necessary work with other professional bodies, such as HEFMA, whose areas of expertise complement those of IHEEM and enable its scope within healthcare to be widened.

In 2019, IHEEM will host the European Conference of the International Federation of Hospital Engineering (IFHE), alongside Healthcare Estates on October 8 & 9 in Manchester.