We need to ensure that our estate – the buildings we use for health and care in south east London – is ‘fit for purpose’ now and into the future.
We provide health services in more than 400 buildings across south east London. This includes a number of new hospital buildings alongside older hospital estate, some of which date back to the 1800s.
The majority of our buildings are located outside main hospital sites however. Many have reached the end of their useful lives, some are in the wrong place, or are difficult adapt to meet future need and support modern technological ways of working.
We are working together across organisational boundaries as providers and commissioners, and with colleagues from local authorities and the voluntary sector through our local estates teams, to find ways to make the very best use of our estate. We want to make sure that, as far as possible, services are in the right place and in buildings that are big enough and flexible enough to accommodate integrated and coordinated health, care and other services; and best meet the needs of local communities, now and in the future.
We have identified many of these buildings from our existing estate and these will be our ‘hubs’, with investment already being made and more planned, to ensure that they are able to deliver what is needed. In some cases, we are also investing in new buildings, in areas where our population will be increasing, for example.
We want to be able to provide modern, consistent, accessible, high quality joined up services from these hubs, limiting the need for travel, making them more accessible for people in wheelchairs or with other physical needs, and in locations that are easy to reach by public transport.
We also have a duty to ensure value for money from our estate. We have some buildings which we could use better: for instance, where administrative and support staff are using vital clinical space. We have developed a guide and resource pack for providers to look at ways of introducing agile and remote working for staff - to free up space, bring care closer to home and improve working lives.
We also know from detailed studies of 10 of our main community buildings that underutilisation is both an issue and an opportunity. We have successfully developed and tested an approach to improving use of space at several sites, including the Akerman Health Centre in Lambeth and Sunshine House Child Development Centre in Southwark. We are using the learning to develop a south east London programme, which will realise unused capacity to accommodate services and deliver better value for money.