Representing estates and facilities professionals operating within the  



“You’ve got to be thinking about systems”

Simon Corben, Director and Head of Profession for NHS Estates and Facilities within NHS England and NHS Improvement, emphasised the importance of systems for the future of the NHS and healthcare in England at the HEFMA National Forum recently. 


During the keynote address, as part of a dedicated session from NHS England and NHS Improvement, Simon stated his belief that there is now a growing recognition of the importance of the services provided by estates and facilities (E&F). He also said that E&F continues to lead the way on operational productivity, although there is still work to be done. E&F has already achieved 55% of the £1.27bn efficiency target and has almost reached the targets for reducing of empty/unused space and non-clinical space, although more could be done on non-clinical space to move from the existing 35% target to 30%. 


Other positives include the success of the Collaboration Hub, which is now a powerful tool hosting multiple conversations. 


Work to be done

The long-awaited backlog maintenance report will be published soon with 10 recommendations, including around governance and approaches to managing backlog. Backlog maintenance has now reached £6bn, of which £3bn is critical (CIR).


Simon posed the question: ‘how do we make the case for more capital?’ He urged all Trusts to share any of their own experiences around the impact of an estates failure due to lack of maintenance on patient safety and services and the ultimate financial cost to the Trust of that failure. Sharing this information with Simon’s team will enable them to strengthen the case for more capital, by demonstrating the negative impact of existing capital to revenue practices and inability to address backlog maintenance. 


The new for old programme needs to move on at pace. Adopting standardised facilities – predominantly in primary and community care – will improve the pace around business case approval.


Improvement to technology needs to focus on linking systems together, so that good can get even better. “We must think across the system,” Simon reiterated.


On the Long Term Plan

The Long Term Plan has been criticised by many – including HEFMA, for the lack of recognition of the E&F workforce and its vague estates plans. Simon outlined six core themes from the Plan and said there are over 30 areas where the input of E&F is necessary to help adapt and shape.


The six core themes are:

* Getting the most from tax payers money

* Action on prevention and health inequalities

* Backing our workforce

* Better use of data and digital technology

* Improved capital and strategic planning

* New NHS service model.