Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  

Conference News


Resilience: Bend or Break

Recapping on the successes of 2017/18, Simon Corben, Director and Operational Lead, Estates & Facilities, NHS Improvement, told delegates during his keynote address at HEFMA's 2018 Leadership Forum that unwarranted variations have been reduced by a "massive" 43%.


Good news


Corben had some positive messages around the work being done by NHS Estates & Facilities teams around the country. Productivity has improved (by £2 per person to £5), CIP plans have been "busted", the response from the health sector with requested information following the Grenfell Tower disaster far exceeded other sectors and the Carillion collapse was also dealt with professionally. 


"In terms of the agenda I think we are very much at the top at the moment. From the good work Peter [Sellars] that did before me, the Carter Review, the Naylor Review, the work we have all been doing and the performance we are showing across our cost improvement programmes is really getting people to notice the importance of the asset and what we can do with that asset. 


"I think we are in a really good place - we're not at the place I'd like us to be, but as we keep on going, we improve in terms of the way that we share and use our data, I think people will understand what we can do, in and around the estates and particularly what we can do as a profession moving forward."




The collaboration hub is a new tool to help the profession to continue on this positive journey. Launched last week, Corben describes this as the "primary gateway to the community" allowing all the good practice to be scaled up, successes celebrated, and information shared. 


Planning involvement


He announced a move to get the NHS involved with planning conversations at the highest level, something that hasn't happened in recent years. "We have an estate that hasn't been able to cope with the current commitment that we have, let alone the commitment that is coming down the pipeline." 


Corben confirmed his department has written to the DCLG about this, saying: "The NHS needs to be acknowledged in a far greater and wider way with regards to future planning."


Challenges & priorities


Among the challenges for individual Trusts is the need to identify where the savings can be delivered to 2021. For the NHSi team, a priority is to get a "better grip" on any capital allocation so that it doesn't get spirited away for spending elsewhere. 


New for old


This is a programme focused on introducing standardisation whereby a standard, 'off-the-shelf' hospital design for which the full life cycle and capital costs are understood and that can be utilised at scale, will move healthcare from its current infrastructure to a new one in the next 10-15 years.




"It's really important that we bring some ambition back into the sector." The STP programme is a good opportunity, Corben said, to think bigger and greater in terms of what you want for your estate. "People are listening to us at the moment and we need to make the most of that opportunity. 


"We are having a lot of discussions around infrastructure at the moment. It's important we are on the 'front foot' and deliver ambitious plans. It's important we challenge the status quo. It's important to ensure we are at the top table when it comes to local planning decisions. It's important to continue to raise the profile of the Estates and Facilities function."



In answer to questions from the floor, Simon Corben cautioned that his team is scrutinising wholly owned subsidiary proposals with a fine-toothed comb, feeling they are not always being driven by the Estates and Facilities department. He warned not to consider this route for a VAT saving, said there are lots of risks in this course of action and confirmed this route is to be carefully reviewed. 


On backlog maintenance he said it is now important to put teeth into the system and confirmed that he had recently had a conversation with Simon Stevens, Chef Executive of NHS England who agreed that we have to stop neglecting the asset. There might be a way this can be done through the Model Hospital.