Since its inception, the NHS has played an integral role in improving and saving the lives of millions in the UK. But on the brink of a crisis, the NHS stands in need of urgent restoration. We take a look at the measures to be put in place to help reinstate a vital link in the delivery of healthcare.
However, the NHS is currently dealing with some very tough challenges, in that it needs to become more operationally efficient, improve its estate and make carbon savings.
There is a massive amount of work to do but Schneider Electric believes that by adopting a creative and radical approach to the problem, via partnerships, a great deal can be achieved.
The most significant challenge facing the NHS is that, as a result of recent budget cuts, it needs to make operational changes to save money and become a more efficient organisation.
Historically, NHS’ funding has increased by six per cent year on year in line with expenditure, enabling the service to just about balance its books. However, as part of the UK Government’s comprehensive spending review, brought in to reduce the country’s multi-billion pound debt, NHS’ funding has been cut.
the challenge, is the mounting pressure on the service to deliver better quality of care and a more responsive service. Britain has a growing, ageing and unhealthy population – resulting in an increased demand for services thereby putting a huge strain on the NHS resources. People expect to live longer and the NHS often pushes the limits of science to make this possible.
The number of people using the NHS is huge. Currently, it deals with, on an average, one million patients every 36 hours – approximately eight people per second. It is estimated that our population will increase by 10 per cent by 2030 to over 71 million, which will put further pressure on a service which is already struggling.
Section 2(a) of the NHS Constitution says the NHS commits to ensure that services are provided in a clean and safe environment that is fit for purpose, based on national best practice – but whether this can be said of some of the buildings in use is debatable.
The main problem is the age of the estate’s buildings. In recent years, over 100 new hospitals have been built with the help of Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs), but these modern buildings are a minority.
A fifth of the building stock actually pre-dates the NHS’ foundation in 1948 (one clinical building which is still in use was built in 1735) – and is not fit for purpose. Around 17 per cent of overall NHS occupied space is not functionally suitable for care or clinical needs. In 30 UK hospitals 50 per cent of the space is not suitable, and one hospital accounts for a figure closer to 83 per cent.
Hospitals are complex environments, and the UK is home to some of the highest energy users by building type. Operating the largest single estate in Europe and having increased its carbon footprint by 40 percent since 1990, the NHS is the largest public sector contributor to climate change and produces over 18 million tonnes of CO2 per year in England.
The NHS clearly needs to achieve some large-scale improvements and create innovative solutions. Assistance from the private sector can also be of immense help. Obviously new buildings are not, at present, a priority for the NHS, but the renovation and refurbishing of existing buildings will go a long way in improving the current scenario.
For example, Schneider Electric has recently formed a partnership with Taunton & Somerset NHS Trust in the South West of England, signing a deal for a performance contracting project to improve Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.
Following a detailed energy audit in 2010, a refurbishment programme has been developed in close consultation with the Hospital Estates Department. It incorporates around 180 individual measures across the site, and the benefits are huge. Over £2.5 million of estate backlog maintenance is being tackled, thereby minimising significant operational and financial risks. Carbon emissions will be reduced by 43 per cent – putting the Trust at the forefront of the UK public sector carbon management.
This project is the first of its kind in the Healthcare Sector and Schneider Electric believes it will mark the beginning of a radical change in the way the NHS Trusts improve, maintain and formulate energy savings in their building stock.
Above all, the project will be cash-flow positive in every year of its 20-year life span, being largely funded by guaranteed energy savings – estimated to be over £750,000 per annum (rising with utility inflation). So, by creating more efficient and greener energy, Schneider Electric will help the hospital to improve its financial performance.
The project is expected to generate a net operating cash surplus of £17 million over 20 years, and to free up £2.5 million of budgeted capital expenditure to spend on other Trust priorities, such as further improvements to the patient environment and new medical technologies.
In a pro
ject of such nature, Schneider Electric would work closely with the Estates Department to devise an improvement programme that de
livers the best value for money and maximum efficiency.
an in-depth analysis of the equipment on-site would be carried out. If the existing equipment was found to be ageing, inefficie
nt or in need of replacement, Schneider Electric would opt for the most efficient approach, which could be a combination of traditional equipment and renewable, low-carbon products such as Photovoltaic (PV) solar power, solar thermal hot water and CHP (Combined Heat and Power).
By using innovative solutions, the NHS infrastructure can be revitalised and huge financial and energy savings can be achieved, while making the environment more comfortable and safe for patients. Schneider Electric estimates that if similar measures to those discussed in this article were replicated across the entire NHS estate, it could result in energy savings of over £200 million a year. Delay in taking action brings no benefits – the NHS
would incur more expenditure.