The healthy choice

Will Bilbrough talks to Construction & Civil Engineering about how growing demand for healthcare developments is providing a boost for the construction industry

In November 2016, a new four-year healthcare framework was launched to secure construction partners for a range of NHS and private healthcare projects. The first of its kind, the Framework enables clients to access private investment to unlock development opportunities and deliver strategic projects in the sector.

It’s no secret that the National Health Service is under pressure. Growing need from an increasing older population and requirements on providers to make greater efficiencies year-onyear is driving demand for new and more sustainable models of care. To successfully implement these models, it is vital that the facilities where services are delivered evolve in tandem.

And it’s not just the NHS where we are seeing a rise in demand for new build and refurbishment projects, as private healthcare providers also continue to present additional opportunities to the construction industry.

A new approach to healthcare development
Funding the array of healthcare projects required has its challenges; public sector capital is limited and budgets are tight, so available funds must be directed to frontline services.

This is where the Private Investment Construction (PIC) Framework comes in, with a fresh approach to help public sector and private healthcare providers channel private investment into the facilities they need. Unlike other frameworks in the sector, the PIC Framework opens up vital sources of private funding, so that providers can realise their strategic plans without compromising investment in services.

Procured and managed by Prime, the PIC Framework is sponsored by Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (YDH). As part of an NHS England ‘Vanguard’, YDH is becoming a showcase for other NHS providers, demonstrating how it is transforming its local health and care system at pace. Already working with Prime through its Strategic Estates Partnership, the Framework will support the Trust’s transformation programme, providing access to experienced, market-tested building contractors and an efficient delivery vehicle.

In May, Prime announced the successful contractors who would be delivering construction projects through the Framework; Interserve, Kier, VINCI Construction UK, Willmott Dixon and Speller Metcalfe.

James Speller, Pre-Construction Director for Speller Metcalfe said: “The PIC framework allows us to capitalise on one of our key sectors, where we have considerable experience. Healthcare is already around 20 per cent of our workload, and this will increase as the demands of an aging UK population and the necessary additional provision of extra care fuels growth in the sector.”

Speaking of the Framework’s combined expertise, Philip Turley, Willmott Dixon Health Sector Manager, said: “The PIC Framework is an excellent route for healthcare providers to work with top quality contractors who have some of the best experience in the industry for delivering projects in this sector.”

Healthcare is also a major part of VINCI Construction UK’s business, with more than 20- years’ experience in the field and a dedicated team of experts delivering its healthcare projects.

Colin Rankin, Business Development Director, VINCI Construction UK said: “We have worked with various NHS and private healthcare clients in the past, and we know that our experience in the healthcare sector will ensure the highest quality facilities are delivered over the next four years. The sector has its own unique challenges and opportunities, which is why we support and train our apprentices on construction for healthcare.”

Contractors appointed to the Framework will be delivering a range of developments in primary, acute and elderly care settings. One of the first projects will be a new Daycase Surgery Unit for YDH. Already in design and development, this standalone building will be a specialist facility for outpatients who require low risk, minor surgery or procedures.

However, the Framework is not only for clinical facilities. One of the main challenges for the healthcare sector is how to improve the patient journey and enhance the patient, visitor and staff experience. Requiring a holistic approach, it is therefore no surprise that access and parking projects are high on the priority list for a number of NHS Trusts.

YDH has recently opened a new multi-storey car park, which consolidates parking on the hospital site whilst freeing-up vital space for new clinical facilities. Located adjacent to the main hospital building, it is now much easier for patients to enter the hospital campus, park and find their way to their appointment. A similar scheme is under construction at University Hospital Southampton.

Having a welcoming and functional main entrance area is also important for improving patient wayfinding, particularly in hospitals and other large healthcare developments.

A main entrance and retail area refurbishment costing £2.5m was recently completed at University Hospital Southampton. With a daily footfall of more than 10,000 people, the redevelopment has provided a modern, welcoming facility that better serves the needs of the patients, visitors and staff passing through the doors each day. Both projects were made possible due to access to value-for-money private funding.

As well as schemes being delivered through Prime’s existing partnerships, other projects in the Framework pipeline include a new primary care centre and an acute hospital facility.

Without the PIC Framework, many of these projects would not be possible. Lewis Parker, Kier Health Director, said: “I think it’s important to note the benefits the PIC Framework brings to NHS Trusts in particular, at a time when public sector budgets continue to be squeezed. The framework gives Trusts access to specialist healthcare contractors who can provide top quality, value for money schemes.”

This was echoed by Interserve Operations Director, Andrew Jowet: “The PIC Framework provides a unique opportunity for healthcare providers to solve their capital funding shortfalls. With the ability to unlock projects by bringing private investment and support, this framework provides us with a real opportunity to broaden support for our healthcare partners much further than we are normally able in this sector.”

The pipeline of projects in healthcare is significant and will provide an increasing number of opportunities for the UK construction industry, as long as there are funding mechanisms in place – like the PIC Framework – to ensure affordable investment is available to turn ambitions into reality.

Will Bilbrough is Framework Manager and Development Director of Prime plc. Prime is a healthcare property company with a 20+ year track record of delivering imaginative, high quality, award-winning developments. Known for its commercial know-how and specialist property and funding expertise, Prime delivers cuttingedge clinical facilities as well as commercial developments and investment opportunities.

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