Hospital coridoor

NHE365: Building sustainable hospitals fit for purpose

Ensuring that buildings are built sustainably, with enough ventilation, including some of the biggest challenges experienced, and sourcing the most appropriate cleaning products, were some of the main points raised during NHE365’s panel discussion: Estates and facilities.

The discussion was hosted by Helen Fospero, and included:

  • Murray Gates, Head of Sales and Marketing, Westgate
  • Gillian Lishman, Acting Matron, Infection Prevention and Control, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Chris James, BSc (hons) MA, PGCE, FCIWM, FCMI (CMgr) FBICSc. MCGLI, British Cleaning Council Board member
  • Dr Christine Peters, Consultant Microbiologist, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital

Mr Gates said: “The pandemic hit and we got a lot of demand for segregation,” as well as pointing out the challenges this brought on, when turning six bed wards into six individual spaces.

He spoke of the efforts involved when working very closely with nightingale hospitals around the country which had to be very quickly installed on site, describing it as “a bit of a whirl wind” but that he was glad to support the initiative.

Ms Lishman shared how fortunate her trust was in having a long-standing relationship with the estates team, as well as having more time, and how through lessons learned during the pandemic, they were able to “adopt an approach of flexibility of thought,” that went “right through to the executives.”

She continued: “We quickly built on the mechanism to meet at least once a day, mange patient flow, and see what was coming through, to where were the safest places, and how to protect patients, and protect staff, and source PPE.”

During the panel debate, Ms Lishman highlighted “the need to marry up what we want to build and how, with experts,” and that collaboration was key in building “something that’s sustainable for everyone.”

Mr James praised how the cleaning industry coped, bringing light to the focus now being on “reversing out of this,” and “making sure it is as safe as possible because of the risk of surface damage,” and therefore having to consider moving to alternative cleaning solutions.

One of the problems Mr James believed hospitals were facing was not knowing when “we have reached the end of the variants,” but that the same level of cleaning should still continue.

Another important factor pointed out by Dr Peters was that the measures that are put in place very much “depends how you understand the pathogen and viruses,” and how her hospital invested a lot in cleaning and hand washing products, and how this involved a lot of reorganising by the infection prevention team.

Having to prioritise where services were needed the most was another aspect Dr Peters’ hospital had to consider, as well as thinking about good air ventilation options and a good filter.

She explained: “The virus hasn’t changed how it transmits; they changed in biology, not physics, which determines the importance of ventilation.

“Our baseline in hospitals is poor in many places, and we are reaping none investment, even in new buildings.

“They have not been built in the way that would reduce infection.

“Thank goodness we have had vaccines, but where the gap has been is our ability to deal with the air borne risk.”

Looking ahead, Mr Gates gave an insight on how the future very much is about sustainability and whether we are “harming the environment or protecting it.”

He shared how many hospital building facilities including eye hospitals, dental hospitals, and negative assessment pods, have very much adapted to being more sustainable, and that what they use at nightingale hospitals is “100% recyclable, it’s completely closed looped sustainability,” and that the sector has “to get ready to adapt hospital spaces.”

NHE March/April 2024

NHE March/April 2024

A window into the past, present and future of healthcare leadership.

- Steve Gulati, University of Birmingham 

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