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Call for evidence: Building hospitals in the post-Covid era

Drawing upon the experiences of the NHS in responding to Covid-19, the call to evidence will explore whether the Government’s new building programme could potentially mark the most comprehensive reform of hospital building in England since the 1960s.

In particular, the IET is interested in drawing the opinion of the membership on the following big issues:

  • Is the traditional concept of a generalist hospital still fit for purpose in the 21st century?
  • How can we ensure that future hospital building is pandemic-proof, whilst still representing good value for taxpayer money?
  • In light of new models of care delivered outside of hospital settings during COVID, do we need to rethink how hospitals provide outpatient care?
  • How can high volume, less specialist work be best delivered in the NHS?
  • Should critical bed capacity be maintained at current levels, return to pre-pandemic levels, or be increased further still?
  • What is the future for field hospitals established as part of the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How can new hospital construction be better integrated within the local health and social care system?

The project is also keen to delve into specific elements of hospital design, including:

Building for the future

  • How can new hospital design make the most of advancements in technology and medical devices? For example, what is the role of devices and new technology in helping to monitor patients?
  • What does future demand for NHS services look like, and how can hospitals better serve their populations?
  • How can new hospitals enable more efficient models of inspection for safety and cleanliness?
  • Should future hospitals be built with a higher proportion of single/private rooms? And how can hospital design contribute to better sleep hygiene for in-patients?
  • What provision should new hospitals make for key worker / affordable housing?

Building greener

  • How can green or ‘natural’ space, both inside and outside hospital buildings, help to deliver positive outcomes for patients and staff? What architectural concepts or features could achieve this?
  • How can air quality in hospitals be improved?
  • How can sustainable materials and energy systems be used to ensure the cost-effective and sustainable operation of future hospitals, and reduce the carbon emissions of the NHS estate?
  • Can we reduce the overwhelming dominance of the car as a means of travelling to and from hospitals? Are there opportunities for fitness and health gains from encouraging other modes of transport?

Building more beautiful

  • Hospitals tend to be built in utilitarian styles. Is it possible to combine consideration of all practical and clinical constraints with building beautiful? Could hospitals be beautiful as well as functional buildings?
  • Should local communities be given more say in the external appearance of hospitals?

The Institution of Engineering and Technology Trustees propose submitting a response to this consultation and invite comments from Members who have expertise in this area and have studied the consultation documents. In its capacity as a professional body, the IET will confine itself to only addressing those questions that are within its area(s) of competence.

For more information and a summary of the questions, please refer to the consultation webpage.

This consultation is now closed for comment.