• NHS Improvement working on standard designs for new NHS facilities
  • New designs could simplify estates transformation process
  • £160m worth of NHS’s surplus estate sold in 2017-18 

Plans for new standardised NHS buildings are being drawn up by efficiency directors in a bid to speed up much needed improvements to ageing estate.

NHS Improvement wants to come up with a handful of standard designs for facilities such as community hubs to simplify the procurement and building process.

It comes as sustainability and transformation partnerships prepare to submit estates plans to regulators at the end of this month.

Simon Corben, NHS Improvement’s director of estates, said the NHS has “lots of energy” for allocating capital funds to STPs, but “no plan or template to deliver projects through”.

Named “New for Old”, the programme aims to standardise designs for facilities so it is easier to know their “lifestyle and capital costs”, and help planners understand which buildings the NHS will use.

“This will allow us to develop things at pace, to bundle up schemes to ensure we can get more efficient financing, and plan a lot faster than we currently are,” Mr Corben told the NHS Confederation conference.

He added: “Coming at it from an infrastructure point of view, it’s almost starting from scratch – looking at how we design facilities that take pressure off acute hospitals.”

The scheme has won the support of health minister Stephen Barclay, who told The Times last week that “modular designs bring economies of scale”.

It is not yet known when trusts could start benefitting from the scheme.

Mr Corben said there has been an “absolute longing” from the NHS’s estates community for simplicity and standardisation.

“There’s a huge amount of confusion in the system between being able to get things done and not getting things done.

“There’s also poor advice being provided out there which makes it a confused mix,” he added.

He said the NHS property board, set up following last year’s Naylor Review of the NHS estates, had a “different feel” 12 months on from its formation.

“It was trickling along and becoming a little bit of a talking shop,” he said.

“Now it has a testy environment.”

Mr Corben also said the NHS needs to make its voice heard much more when major infrastructure projects that brings increases in population and commerce are approved in an area, such as the third runway at Heathrow Airport and Crossrail.

“We should be [in those discussions] very quickly to say this is going to have an impact on the health system, this is the cost it will put on us, and this is the infrastructure we will need to support that service,” he said.

NHS land sales in 2017-18

More than £160m worth of surplus NHS land was sold in 2017-18, new figures from NHS Digital show.

The Surplus Land collection, published on Thursday, revealed the NHS sold land and buildings worth £163.3m in the last financial year.

The overall value of the NHS’s surplus estate was estimated at £260m and covers nearly 1,800 hectares of land.

Of the 232 NHS trusts which submitted information to NHS Digital, 166 reported having surplus plots of land.