Leadership ‘key’ to NHS health estate

Exclusive: Devolution in the NHS can help transform the estate, but only if leaders are empowered to take the big decisions, a panel of experts agreed at a Partnerships Bulletin roundtable.

The 'Big Question' event, hosted in partnership with health specialist gbpartnerships and law firm Addleshaw Goddard, brought together experts from the public and private sectors to discuss the way in which devolution can bring about change in the health estate in London.

Experts agreed that the way in which the model is working today is heading slowly in the right direction, but leaders within the disparate NHS organisations need to be given the authority to take decisions without feeling that any decisions will be used against them in the future.

“Let’s empower people to take decisions rather than focus on the idea that a person’s neck is on the block if things don’t turn out perfectly,” said one participant.

“We need to try things, get one or two projects going and then that can act to get on a roll and deliver more schemes that are needed,” added another.

Experts also suggested that greater coordination between the different NHS bodies is needed, with one pointing out that in London, while there is a Memorandum of Understanding on the health estate, the big acute and foundation trusts are not signed up to it – despite being the ones with the largest amount of land in the capital.

One of the participants concluded that many of the issues and problems discussed are “not complicated”, however implementing them has proved the big challenge on which all sides need to work.

It was also pointed out that the Scottish Hub model appears to have dealt with some of these issues – albeit on a smaller scale often with fewer stakeholders – in part by having the Scottish Futures Trust working alongside the local organisations, thereby providing central oversight to devolved decisions.

A second roundtable session, focusing on Manchester’s NHS estate, will take place later this week, after which a write-up of both sessions, plus the thoughts of sponsors gbpartnerships and Addleshaw Goddard, will feature in a special ‘Big Question’ supplement