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The challenge of maintenance in NHS trusts - how FM software can help

This article was also featured in HefmA Pulse – view as PDF here.

 

The NHS estate in England has a floor area that would cover the City of London ten times, the land it owns totals 6.9 million hectares and the total floor space of trust and primary care trust buildings is estimated at 28.4 million square metres. The NHS has many under-utilised properties, and a significant amount of its estate is in poor condition or not fit for purpose. According to NHS Information Centre data, the cost of clearing the total backlog of maintenance required is more than £4 billion.

Maintenance is a significant cost, which can account for a huge part of the operational budget. And, with the ever increasing pressure on the NHS to save money, estates managers need to do more for less. The maintenance culture has therefore changed from the unpredictability of reactive work to a best in class model of using more planned, scheduled and preventive work.

However, Trusts can struggle with a strategic approach to maintenance because of resource pressure, the geographical spread and age of the estate, and the increasing use of shared facilities with other trusts and healthcare bodies, which makes keeping estate information up to date more challenging.

Using technology to manage reactive and planned maintenance events and to create quality data for reporting and strategic planning allows facilities managers to take a positive and proactive approach, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and reduced operational spend. Cost savings can then be reinvested, to support the increasing challenge of providing a high quality and efficient healthcare service.

CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management) software is a tool which delivers facilities and estates managers with essential insight into service and delivery, creating a strong knowledge base for strategic maintenance planning.

CAFM in practice at Southern Health

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which provides specialist mental health and learning disability services for people of all ages across Hampshire and the surrounding area, was established in 2001 and, since that date, has more than doubled in size, operating across 89 sites. The Trust’s Works Department is responsible for ensuring the timely delivery of facilities and maintenance services to 140 properties, as well as to the third party NHS institutions that it works with. As the Trust covers a wide geographic region, often in remote areas, services are delivered by both in-house and third party contractors.

As the scope and geographic coverage of their services grew, the Trust needed a system that could rapidly co-ordinate and control maintenance requirements. Following a tendering process and after several site reference visits, Southern Health implemented QFM software from Service Works, in order to support a busy helpdesk with high volume of work requests.

From the smallest minor improvements to the largest capital projects, the system allows the Trust to effectively manage events from inception to completion, rather than simply tracking staff resources as was previously the case. The comprehensive event costing capabilities allow the cost element of each event to be fully managed. This means that the estates team can be far more proactive in providing accurate information to the finance department, which is then able to deliver timely invoices to customers and drive revenue.

Preventative maintenance tasks and the management of resources are also controlled through the system, ensuring that the Trust’s Estates Department has full visibility and control of costs, performance and service delivery through one integrated system. All of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust’s facilities and estates performance reporting is driven from the system’s suite of reports to give complete transparency.

The software also enables hospital staff and end users to log maintenance requests through a simple, secure web interface, at any time day or night. This ensures a timely, efficient and transparent service, allowing staff to focus on their job of providing patient care.

As NHS Trusts across the UK continue to consolidate, estates departments are under increasing pressures to rationalise processes, centralise information and save money. The collaboration between Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Service Works Group demonstrates how technology can be leveraged to streamline facilities and estates operations, enhancing the standard of patient care and delivering optimum value to the community.

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