Caring for the growing needs of your community.

Alpina Funding Medical Assistance Healthcare Program

provides access to infrastructure and health care including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, ...

Hospital Building Programme

  • build new hospitals
  • modernise the primary care estate
  • improve mental health facilities
  • invest in new diagnostics and technology

The planning phase for hospital building projects usually starts with a clinical services plan, based on need. Following a consultation exercise, this then evolves into a master plan, and is outlined in a project brief and the business case. Starting with the concept, the design process that follows moves through stages from schematic design and into more detailed designs.

Key considerations during the planning and design phases include how core services will operate, as well as how these services will work alongside surrounding or ancillary services. Any functional requirements of the building, what utilities or services need to be accessible from where, and how staff and patients will use the hospital space, as well as how they will get to and from the hospital, also need to be considered.

New hospitals will need to serve the surrounding population for many years, so looking further into the future is necessary. How is the hospital likely to be used in the future? Will there be enough space to accommodate the local population in 30 years’ time, and will it suit the age and attendance profile?

Modelling tools are becoming ever more advanced, and it is now possible to create scenarios to predict the effect of a new build on the economy and the population over time. However, modelling can rarely account for the effects of an unplanned event, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, which is likely to change the way we look at capacity planning in the future.

The need for flexibility

As a result of the pandemic, we have seen some of the longer term trends accelerate, and this needs to be included at the design stage – the future may arrive sooner than initially expected. Climate change is gaining more attention and is being prioritised higher than before, and there is pressure to reduce timelines for addressing the issue. Therefore, a stronger focus on energy efficiency, sustainability, recycling and minimising waste, reducing water use and using renewable energy sources is needed.

The changing climate has also brought a need to design for greater resistance to extreme weather events, such as fires, flooding and storms, and in combination with the arrival of Covid-19 has brought to the forefront a need for resilience in the unexpected events in general.

Hospitals are busy places, and something else that needs addressing is the potential disruption to essential services to the community during the construction phase. For that reason, hospital projects are often delivered in stages. Unfortunately hospital projects, even when staged and carefully planned, can be both large and complex, and delays or disruption to works are not uncommon. It is advisable to plan for the implementation of temporary healthcare infrastructure, to help bridge the gap in the case of such an event occurring.

It is of impotance to plan for population growth overall, but also for accelerated growth in certain areas. There is a need to expand the use of climate scenarios and modelling tools, and expanding information sharing capabilities for best results.  Above all, there is a need to embed resilience into healthcare systems to be able to respond to national emergencies or other unexpected events without disrupting either urgent or planned healthcare service provision.

Increasing resilience

The healthcare construction sector looks to be experiencing a bit of a boom at the moment, which may continue for years to come if the growing pipelines are anything to go by. Covid-19 has forced us to consider various ‘what if’ scenarios and review contingency plans. It has also brought a realisation that more capacity – and flexible capacity at that – is needed to be able to cope with events such as a pandemic.