Cranes in operation above a construction site

New leadership appointment for NHS hospital construction programme

The Government’s pledge to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 has received a significant boost following the appointment of a new lead: Natalie Forrest, previously Chief Executive of Chase Farm Hospital.

Bringing a wealth of health, construction and project management experience to the role, Ms Forrest will oversee the Government’s plans to build the new hospitals, as part of the largest hospital-building project in a generation.

A registered nurse and with over 30 years of experience working in the NHS, Ms Forrest most recently led the construction and operationalisation of NHS Nightingale London, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was alongside her role as Chief Executive at Chase Farm Hospital in North London, where she led operational and clinical teams to design an innovative new hospital, delivered on time, on budget and without interruption to existing services.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m delighted to appoint Natalie into this role. She not only brings unrivalled experience in health management and nursing, but also the construction and project management knowledge that helped turn the Excel conference centre into a Nightingale Hospital in just 9 days, as well as overseeing the rebuild of Chase Farm Hospital at pace.

“The New Hospital Programme – as part of our Health Infrastructure Plan – will transform the delivery of NHS healthcare infrastructure to build back better and will ensure our country has world-class healthcare facilities right across the country for decades to come.”

Speaking of her new appointment as Senior Responsible Officer of the New Hospital Programme, Ms Forrest added: “I am determined to build trust in our national capability in planning and delivering hospitals, not just with health and construction stakeholders but with the staff and patients who will benefit from them on a daily basis.

“My goal will be to deliver these new hospitals cost-effectively and at speed, and to foster an ecosystem that owns, learns from and improves healthcare design.”

In total, 48 hospitals will be built by 2030 under the Government’s ambitious plans, with £3.7bn in funding committed so far.

In the North East of England, one of these schemes has just received final approval over the upgrading of mental health facilities in the region. Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s new £72.6m facilities – which are set to be finalised by 2023 – will improve the quality of mental health and learning disability services in the regions by combining innovative design with a holistic approach to patient care and safety.

Final approval has also been secured on a new £67.4m hospital building at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust in the North West too. Construction is set to begin on the building soon, which once complete will be home to a major trauma centre treating patients who have experienced life-changing or life-threatening injuries – for example, following a serious road traffic accident or fall.

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NHE May/June 2024

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