9 June - Mental Health Network webinar

09 June 2022

This week’s guest was Jonathan Barron, Senior Policy Adviser for NHS Finances. The discussion was chaired by Beatrice Fraenkel, Chair, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. They led the discussion on the topic of capital and estates.

The discussion started from the observation that very few trusts will be building new hospitals going forwards, and all trusts carry estate – which is expensive to maintain and not always designed to support recovery. Mental health trusts today need an estates strategy to redesign services to release physical space capacity and keep people in their homes for as long as possible.

How estates are managed is the board’s responsibility, although the board is not the primary user and as such a fundamental step is to construct a user board. Trusts might want to create a design advisory board (comprising of service users, clinical staff, members of the local community, finance, estates and security) todetermine the design, considering the whole environment, including landscaping, beauty and access to light, air and nature. The relationship to space and senses must be considered to allow a shift in thinking. In order to ensure funds are spent effectively, a clear brief is required before going out to commission. The end result is articulated most clearly by the service users and the quality of the design brief determines the result. It is worthy to note that these design boards should be overarching. Each project has a core group and there is a differing mix of people depending on the facility, but always to include service users.

The UK has a poor record in capital investment in health and the £9.2billion maintenance backlog affecting the ability to provide effective care. Accessing capital at system level and enacting changes at strategic policy level, which mental health practitioners would like to see, are very challenging. Northern Ireland offers good practice examples.

Also overheard during this week’s webinar:

“Many mental health trusts have a mixture of buildings in terms of owned, NHS properties and PFI properties. This mix can be toxic in the ability to provide quality care.”

“We could reduce aggression in an acute hospital by removing barriers and moving security staff.”

“The first impression when entering a healthcare building is absolutely crucial: the feeling of welcome and being wanted, as well as the emotions experienced, set the tone.”

These meetings are by invitation only. For further details, visit our events page.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk