Minister sets out strategic approach to healthcare infrastructure

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Speaking at the NHS England and NHS Improvement online National Estates and Facilities Forum in March, Minister of State for Health, Edward Argar MP confirmed that a refreshed version of the Health Infrastructure Plan (HIP) will be published later this year. 

Edward Argar, who chairs the NHS Strategic Infrastructure Board, said the move was necessary, to reflect ongoing challenges, such as backlog maintenance, essential learning from the pandemic and long-term challenges, including the commitment to net-zero carbon, creating an estate fit to meet clinical and patient needs in the 21st century, incorporating technology and delivering integrated care. To achieve this requires proper planning and a long-term strategy around investment. 

“The vision set out by this government’s long-term plan for the NHS – a vision built around patient and place and the integration of care – is a vision which simply cannot be achieved unless it is enabled by strategic, sustained investment in our NHS infrastructure and estates,” he said.

The refreshed HIP will set the strategic direction for all aspects of the Department of Health and Social Care’s capital and infrastructure, with the NHS at its heart.

“I’m keen that this strategy does not re-invent the wheel, and instead builds on the great work already done, while taking into account what we have learnt over the past year.

“So, we will bring together our existing commitments and strategies to give the sector – including all of you as estates, facilities and finance professionals – a clear vision and set of priorities to work towards over the next 10 years.”

Areas to be covered by the HIP include:

• The strategy for new hospitals and hospital upgrades, as well as the standards expected in these projects

• The direction of travel in the primary care estate, including getting the most out of primary care hubs

• How technology should be most effectively deployed in the NHS

• The strategy to deliver on that shared objective of the sustainability agenda and net zero.

The strategy aims to bring together investment, maximise value for money and ensure everyone and every organisation is pulling in the same direction towards the same goal.

“Before COVID, we knew the elements that would make our strategy successful: standardised design through modern methods of construction, listening to clinicians and designing clinical spaces, reflecting what we know they need to do their job. Effective use of technology hardwired in as standard, and an unwavering commitment to achieving net-zero carbon across the whole NHS.

“But recent months have also brought into clear focus critical issues like agility and flexibility in controlling infections. So we must work together to pull this into a coherent framework that balances all these critical elements as we move forward. Working at pace, setting clear standards, and embracing the vital role that health infrastructure plays more broadly in our communities.”

The new version of the HIP is in the early stages of development, but Mr Argar confirmed that officials are already working with partners across the system. “Partnership with each and every one of you, with your Trusts and communities is vital as we seek to translate this vision from our hearts and heads into a reality on our streets.”



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