Risk Management at Scale – The Challenge for Community Healthcare Expansion

Expanding community healthcare facilities is a central theme in building a more resilient health service. Community healthcare facilities make services more accessible and take the pressure off main hospitals to enable greater flexibility in the system.

Delivery of expanded community healthcare will potentially involve hundreds of relatively small-scale building programmes across the country. What does this mean for risk management?

The risks we are talking about aren’t just late delivery and cost overruns. Quality levels and energy efficiency performance also have to be carefully managed, with the increasing focus on whole-life costs and the move towards net zero carbon.

In the context of a one-off build, the risk levels of a typical construction project might seem acceptable – or at least something we’ve learned to live with. But if you multiply those risks over hundreds of projects they become hugely significant.

Methods and Materials are Central to Risk management

Risk management at this scale needs a systemic approach. It has to start with specifying the methods and materials that have the lowest inherent levels of risk. Product standardisation achieved through coordinated procurement will reduce risks further. It will also open opportunities for significant efficiencies and economies of scale.

Naturally, greater use of offsite construction will be essential. Offsite brings digitally-controlled and repeatable processes into the equation along with less reliance on increasingly scarce skilled labour. Productivity and quality gains – rather than increased risks – can then be multiplied across numerous projects.

If all of this talk about efficiency and standardisation is conjuring up an image of design compromises and uninspiring identikit buildings, it shouldn’t. In the case of panelised offsite there is enormous design freedom when it comes to layout, finishes and the imaginative use of natural light and ventilation.

The reliability of the production process offers more scope for imaginative design without increasing cost, timing or quality risks. Buildings can be fine-tuned to the needs of local communities with the flexibility to adapt to future demands. Best of all, effective risk management can be implemented, at scale, no matter how many projects are commissioned.

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