Modular buildings can be viewed as a cost-effective solution to improving and increasing NHS facilities, Alan Wilson, managing director of ModuleCo Healthcare explores further

It’s no secret that NHS Trusts across the UK are struggling to find enough space and funds to effectively run hospitals, particularly as the country’s demand for health services reaches new heights thanks to Coronavirus fears and an already ageing population.

The government has recognised this national problem and pledged £2.7bn to build a total of 40 hospitals, including rebuilding six existing sites. This is a huge step forward, but it’s also a very ambitious target and there are other solutions available to help create the additional facilities and resources required. One such option is the rental of modular buildings.

Construction work in the NHS can often prove problematic. Most Trusts simply do not have the available capital to pay for building work upfront and, even where finance options are available, it’s extremely difficult to deliver the works without causing chaos and disruption to hospital grounds and the day-to-day running of healthcare services.

That’s why investing in modular buildings through flexible rental agreements could be the solution NHS Trusts are looking for. The work can be delivered incredibly quickly while keeping daily disturbances to a minimum. Additionally, flexible rental solutions require no upfront capital, meaning it’s possible to improve the quality and quantity of healthcare facilities without additional financial burdens on Trusts.

Efficient delivery that meets needs

One of the most attractive aspects of modular construction is the delivery timeframe. At ModuleCo Healthcare, we can deliver a single ward in 16 weeks, while an individual operating theatre can be supplied in just 10. These timescales cover the entire process, from order to handover, and represent a long-term solution for most hospitals.

In the wake of Coronavirus, the Chancellor announced in his 2020 Budget that the NHS will get “whatever it needs, whatever it costs” while the NHS Long Term Plan emphasises place-based care and a focus on population health. This involves determining what infrastructure and construction work will meet the needs of the communities, while also maintaining operational efficiency. Choosing to lease modular buildings, either on a  permanent or temporary basis, is a great way to support this approach, particularly since the needs of a local population are subject to change.

Undisturbed daily operations

By opting for modular construction, an NHS trust can limit the amount of disruption to the daily running of a hospital, which is pivotal for its staff and patients. On-site construction work can often be disturbing to staff, patients and visitors, and traditional construction projects can also be easily delayed, sometimes through a lack of site access or even adverse weather conditions. Such issues are generally avoidable when opting for modular construction methods.

Modular buildings are constructed offsite and are then delivered to their destination in single modules, ready to install. This ensures that any issues affecting the running of a hospital are kept to a bare minimum and makes the entire process more convenient for all involved.

The nature of construction in a controlled environment means that quality and safety are guaranteed, and the building materials are protected from moisture and weather during the construction process. Building offsite is transforming the construction process for hospitals as it ensures better quality management and less disruption.

Flexible rental agreements

Flexible rental agreements are excellent options for NHS Trusts, who need to extend their clinical estate but do not have the budget required to pay for the work upfront. Rental agreements are a helpful alternative because they eliminate the burden of needing to fully finance the project straight away.

Flexible finance solutions are available for a variety of timeframes, specifically tailored to the needs of the individual NHS Trust. So, whether a hospital requires a 10-year agreement to deliver two entire new wards, or, using a shorter-term example, has the need to increase operating theatre capacity or improve resilience, leasing options are available to suit all.

Procurement routes

In addition to utilising modern construction methods, procurement frameworks are also accessible and come at zero cost to NHS Trusts. National frameworks, such as the NHS Shared Business Services and Crown Commercial Frameworks for modular buildings, allow the public sector to procure clinical capacity with ease via a trusted OJEU accredited source. This enables NHS trusts to make necessary improvements to hospitals, which can ease capacity issues or be utilised to generate much-needed revenue income, allowing for the potential to reinvest into core NHS services.

Ordinarily, an order via a procurement framework covers the design, supply, delivery and construction, as well as ongoing maintenance of both temporary and permanent modular buildings, whether they are purchased or hired. There’s a lot of consideration put into these frameworks before suppliers are awarded and announced, therefore any modular build specialists included have already proved that they can deliver exceptional services.

Changing perceptions of modular buildings

For those that have yet to step foot inside a modular facility, there can be an assumption that modular buildings can’t offer the level of quality provided by traditional, on-site construction methods.

This simply isn’t the case and modular building providers are seeing increasing demand from customers who understand the benefits they can offer. Modular buildings can be sophisticated and created to an extremely high-specification – individually tailored to meet specific needs. At ModuleCo Healthcare, we encourage all potential clients to take a tour of one of our completed facilities and visit our factory to see the offsite construction method first-hand. This enables us to show how progressive our products can be.

One of the main advantages of building modular is the bespoke design, which means buildings are tailored to meet specific requirements. Modular buildings can be custom-made to fit in an exact space and delivered within specific budget constraints, which is ideal for hospitals looking to create new wards and theatres with a designated use in mind.

Ultimately, modular construction enables faster, more cost-effective and greener building solutions for the NHS, while offering exceptionally high-quality results. With pressures on the NHS mounting, there’s no time like the present to unlock the potential of modular facilities to increase resources and capacities to keep healthcare services operating as efficiently as possible.

 

Alan Wilson

Managing director

ModuleCo Healthcare

Twitter: @ModuleCoH

LinkedIn: ModuleCo Healthcare Limited

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