Estates and facilities 'the Cinderella' of the NHS

Published: 26-Oct-2015

Conference urges estates and facilities teams to 'bang down the doors' of NHS chief executives in order to get the estate put firmly on the agenda

Estates and facilities teams need to ‘bang down the doors’ of chief executives to ensure the topic is taken seriously at board level, the 2015 IHEEM Conference heard.

Speakers at this year’s event, held last week in Manchester, described estates and facilities as the ‘Cinderella’ of the NHS, but said they had a vital role to play in ensuring top-quality services.

Dr Sue O’Connell, chief executive of Community Health Partnerships (CHP), said: “Very few trust chief executives have an estates and facilities background, but it’s really important that leaders understand the importance of the estate.

Estates have for so long been the Cinderella, but they are fundamentally important to everything

“Estates have for so long been the Cinderella, but they are fundamentally important to everything.”

Mike Hobbs, managing director of Carillion, added: "I think we all understand the importance of their activities and their contribution to the patient experience, but I’m nore sure we always tell them. We don’t tell them how important they are."

And Karen Baker, chief executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, urged estates directors to ‘bang down doors’.

She said: “I do not have estates managers banging on my door telling me it’s important. I do not ask, and you do not tell me to pay attention. It’s time to bang down our doors and tell us how you can help us to operate more efficiently.”

This view was supported by another speaker, Martin Cannon, a PFI expert from DAC Beachcroft. He said: “We in health estates are in a position to provide the most-suitable environment to deliver clinical care at the lowest cost. Under the pressures of finance we seem to have lost some of that focus. We have got to argue with our finance colleagues on the real value of what we do.”

Julien Amey, chief executive of IHEEM, said the institute was working with Engineering UK to try and solve the current recruitment crisis in the estates and engineering sectors.

“We know there is a crisis in the supply chain in England and we are working to look at how we can provide the workforce of the future and how we provide good leaders," he told delegates.

"We are working very closely with other agencies to focus on getting young people interested and excited about coming into the healthcare engineering sector."

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