NHS Estates and Facilities Conference

NHS Estates and Facilities Conference: Hybrid and hubs panel

Matrix Booking ran an insightful Hybrid and hubs panel discussion at the NHS Estates & Facilities Conference on March 1st 2023 run by Convenzis. The event attracted hundreds of public sector professionals and provided an opportunity to engage directly with key policymakers and peers to discuss:

  1. Sustainability – including energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy sources. 

  2. Digital transformation – including building information modelling (BIM), asset management systems, and smart building technologies.   

  3. Collaboration and partnerships – how forming partnerships with other NHS organisations or private sector organisations can deliver more cost-effective and efficient estate and facilities management. 

  4. Adaptability – NHS estates and facilities need to be adaptable and flexible to meet the changing needs of staff and patients. 

  5. Patient-centred design – to improve the patient experience and create a more comfortable and welcoming environment. The NHS is placing an increased emphasis on designing its estates and facilities to meet the needs of its patients. 

Our panel was hosted by Matthew Etherington (Head of NHS and Corporate Sales) and consisted of the following members:

  • Nicola Theron: Director of Estates – North Central London ICS

  • Paul Fitzpatrick: Director of Estates and Facilities – Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • Phil Shaw: Divisional Director – Tilbury Douglas

Below is a summary of the panel discussions:

Agile and hybrid working

Many roles within hospitals need to be conducted physically. In roles that can be conducted from home, our panel members noted a rise in home working as meetings can be conducted using video conferencing software, such as Microsoft Teams. Recently, the panel have felt that although there has been an increase in home working, employees have found a benefit from meeting face-to-face in an office environment.

Overall, they feel this results in improved efficiency and being in the office gave rise to more off-the-cuff, creative discussions. One panel member mentioned that employees need to be encouraged to come to an office to work. However, it’s also important to recognise that some prefer to work from home. This panel member felt that one of the benefits of working for the NHS is the desire for others to share work and projects. They felt that to ensure junior staff can see a career path ahead, they need the networking opportunities that meeting others face-to-face can provide.

Tilbury Douglas commented that they have seen 60% fewer desks in new hospitals being built, which has resulted in more clinical space. They have seen an increase in smart buildings that use an Internet of things (IoT) to track building usage and turn off sections of buildings that are not being used. Changing the way of working has had an impact on building design and infrastructure.

How has NHS space changed?

Consultants are now providing clinics both virtually and face-to-face. There are times when remote clinics are not as effective for example, face-to-face clinics open up opportunities for other team members to offer support. One advantage to a mixture of remote and face-to-face consultations is volume. By conducting a mixture of face-to-face and remote consultations, a greater number of consultations can be completed within the same timeframe as just face-to-face consultations.

Using data can make building more efficient; data can be used to check what space is being underutilised. Good quality data can also show if space is fit for purpose. For example, air quality. Utilising various data sets can reduce back office space, creating more space within communities for clinical wards. Using data can make buildings more efficient.

Some of our panel members are guaranteeing the availability of resources and spaces for their staff by using desk and room booking software.

The future of healthcare estate strategies

One panel member mentioned two additional areas to the estate strategy:

  1. Digital investment alongside estate investment.

  2. Focus on efficiency, quantifying, and demonstrating the efficiency of estate changes.

They also commented that it is important that the workforce is onboard with any changes that are implemented as part of the estate strategy.

Another panel member agreed that digital technology within healthcare is growing and this has resulted in more consulting that can be done from home. This directly impacts the amount of time that is spent in a hospital. For example, in the new Royal Liverpool Hospital, 1,500 staff are sharing 675 desks. As a result, more space has been made available for clinical usage. Traditionally, employees had an office or a designated desk. This change can be a challenge for some and workforce planning policies around this help to drive this change forward. For example, having a policy that states three people per desk. 

To support this change, software to manage hybrid working will provide employees with the opportunity to book resources, such as desks and meeting rooms. Employees can use data to analyse bookings and adapt office space to suit, for example creating more break-out spaces.

Matrix Booking and the NHS

As an approved NHS SBS Framework Supplier, Matrix Booking supports NHS organisations in adapting to new ways of working, improving access to workplace resources, and helping to unlock the true potential of those resources through a range of intuitive and easy-to-use online booking platforms. We are proud to work with organisations, such as the Department of Health and Social Care, UK Health Security Agency, Care Quality Commission, trusts, Integrated Care Boards, and many more, in delivering a solution and service dedicated to effective workplace and resource management.

At Matrix Booking, we have supported the development of innovative and forward-thinking workplace management projects in the public sector throughout the past decade, including the introduction and continued expansion of the Government Hub Network. We are looking forward to exhibiting at this event to demonstrate how our resource booking platform is helping healthcare professionals to maximize their estates. Our experts will be on hand to discuss your resource management needs and ambitions.

Explore how else Matrix Booking can help you

Employees can search for desks in any of your buildings or shared hubs, find colleagues, make bookings for their team, and more.

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People can find rooms that meet their needs, including location, facilities, capacity, and accessibility. Add equipment, catering, and other essentials. 

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Efficiently manage visitor sign in systems across your sites, ensuring a secure welcome and clear communication of health and safety procedures.

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Powerful reports help you keep track of occupancy levels, usage trends, and more, so that you can continually optimise your estates. 

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