To Build Extra Capacity for Emergencies, NHS Trusts Need to Look at Their Asset Base
Back in December 2017 an article in the Guardian reported concerns from NHS Chief Executives that hospitals were already running at 99% capacity in the run up to winter, http://ow.ly/iVpX50zxsyz. The recommendation at the time was that 85% of capacity was the target to provide a safety margin for spikes in demand.
Covid-19 has, tragically, given us real-life experience of dealing with a pandemic. Maybe even the 85% capacity target may need to be revisited. What is certain is that the NHS needs the ability to rapidly bring extra capacity on-stream quickly. Temporary facilities such as Nightingale hospitals helped the UK to cope but are not ideal for many reasons. One of the main ones is having the extra capacity away from the main hospital infrastructure.
Extra ward space, particularly for high dependency cases, cannot be wished into existence. Physical space and financial resources will continue to be in short supply. In the search for extra capacity, flexibility and resilience, many trusts will inevitably have to examine their existing assets and how they are used.
Clinical Capacity or Car Parking?
On many hospital sites, car parks occupy significant amounts of space. Many of these facilities only offer surface level parking. Simply adding an extra parking deck would potentially release development land where additional clinical capacity could be created. The added capacity would be on site, right where it is needed most.
Alternatively, support or administrative facilities could be created on the land released, which would free-up space in existing buildings. Some land could be sold for development (such as key worker accommodation) to help fund any new construction.
Building multi story car parks might sound complex, disruptive and financially risky, but it needn’t be. Osborne and Siderpark have created a modular solution that can be installed quickly and without foundations to add up to two additional decks to existing car parks.
Because it is modular, the additional parking can be added in phases as more land is released and developed. The solution includes design, planning, erection, maintenance and even operation, if required.
There will be many strands in solving the problem of expanding hospital capacity. Better use of existing car parking space could be one part of the solution.
See how it’s done here