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Modular build specialists call for planning and funding ‘re-think’

With NHS repair backlogs reaching record levels, and – as they put it – ‘the New Hospital Programme facing an uncertain future’, modular construction firms, Darwin Group and Portakabin are calling for ‘a re-think’ around how healthcare estates are planned and funded.

Having ‘combined their strengths to deliver excellence in modern healthcare environments’ over the last year, both companies have been looking at how modular construction and alternative funding options could ‘transform the idea of what a modern healthcare estate could look like’.

Darwin Group CEO, Richard Pierce (pictured), believes a strategic overhaul is long overdue. He said: “We know the transformational effect an outstanding healthcare estate can have on patient care, as well as improving staff satisfaction, morale, and wellbeing. We also know that much of the existing healthcare estate across the country – both NHS and private sector – is simply unfit for purpose because of the ever-changing healthcare needs and demands.

“The NHS needs greater financial flexibility, and an entirely new approach to how it builds new hospitals and other facilities. While standardisation is essential, the healthcare sector needs more than Hospital 2.0. We want to reimagine the way healthcare estates are designed and built to ensure true flexibility is built in from the start. That means planning for changes in building use according to future healthcare needs in various ways, such as having the ability to easily add extra floors or change internal configurations across the estate when needed.

He continued: “Funding challenges hinder the progression of healthcare estates, from Cdel funding restrictions to an ever-increasing demand on services. We as partners need to reimagine what’s possible – and we’re ready to make that change to ensure our healthcare estates are fit for purpose, now and in the future.”

Robert Snook, Portakabin MD, added: “We don’t just want to plug the gaps – we want to reimagine the modern healthcare estate to ensure today’s hospitals are also fit for tomorrow. That means re-thinking how we design, build, and fund our entire healthcare estate to provide complete flexibility and adaptability.

“While a local community’s most significant health need today might be a diagnostic centre, that could change in 10 or 20 years’ time, when there might be greater demand for maternity services, or an orthopaedic centre. We need buildings and estates that can adapt to keep up with this need. Our ultimate vision is to create a truly flexible healthcare estate that can be easily adapted to cope with future pressure and need, encompassing permanent and temporary structures that can be changed and adapted as local needs shift.”

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