Graham Spence on the quiet revolution helping people transform their wellbeing
In association with Community Health Partnerships
For more than a decade, my job has been to help ensure that the NHS has the best estate that allows patients to be cared for efficiently and locally.
I work for Community Health Partnerships, which has deliverd the NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust programme for the Department of Health. You will know the buildings – they are well maintained, flexible and often important hubs for communities. Typically, they’re in areas of highest need. Patients love them and so do the clinical teams that work in them.
The programme has produced 340 buildings with more than 50 health centres that integrate NHS, community and local authority services, plus standalone community hospitals. Many include gyms, libraries and swimming pools, instantly offering local people the chance to transform their own health and wellbeing.
The largest investment
It’s sometimes said that LIFT has been a quiet revolution: the largest and most concentrated investment in primary care and community health estate ever made in this country. LIFT Public Private Partnerships have raised £2.5bn for capital development, secured from just £100m of public sector investment.
The better health centre management that we have recently introduced, alongside new electronic booking systems and simplified rental processes are leading local providers to shift services into this estate
I’m especially pleased with what’s happened in the long run. The buildings are in excellent condition – thanks to maintenance being embedded in tenancy contracts. The focus of the 49 LIFTCo partnerships ensures that they remain assets to the NHS.
In many ways, LIFT has been ahead of its time in terms of both developing investment in estate and ensuring that the results are lasting, reliable and efficient. Sir Robert Naylor’s recent report, NHS Property and Estates, detailed the £10bn backlog in NHS maintenance, which the LIFT model has managed to avoid.
Meanwhile, Lord Carter’s 2016 review of NHS productivity highlighted the urgency of rethinking estate to improve NHS efficiency and to ensure that clinical expenditure can achieve more in the delivery of patient services. LIFT scores well on that count too.
Today, local health systems seek to locate services in their most efficient, productive estate. They turn increasingly to the buildings in CHP’s portfolio delivered by the LIFT programme. The better health centre management that we have recently introduced, alongside new electronic booking systems and simplified rental processes are leading local providers to shift services into this estate.
The flexibility, sustainability and community focus of LIFT estate is just what’s needed for the cost effective, local models of care that are envisaged by the Five Year Forward View.
The HSJ Strategic Estates Forum is taking place on 20 March at BMA House in London. This is a high-level strategic forum that brings together estates directors, STP estates leads and trust board leaders responsible for the estates function who are developing strategic plans for their organisations and local health economies. The focus of the forum is on issues such as the delivery vehicle for the Naylor Report, the creation of Project Phoenix, advice on establishing SEPs (Strategic Estates Partnerships) and assessing progress of STP estates plans. Sir Robert Naylor, National Adviser, NHS Property and Estates; David Williams, Director General of Finance, Department of Health and Simon Corben, Head of Profession, NHS Improvement are all confirmed as keynote speakers for the event. Register your interest for this free-to-attend event on our website: https://strategicestates.hsj.