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News archive - July 2013

Networking event proves a success

Networking event proves a success

‘Excellent’, ‘informative’ and ‘great value for money’ were just a few of the comments made by delegates about the inaugural healthcare buildings forum, held at the Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel in Warwickshire last week.

Organised by Stable Exhibitions, the event aimed to create a productive networking environment through which delegates could focus on creating long-lasting business relationships through a series of pre-arranged meetings.

It began with a panel discussion chaired by healthcare design & management editor, Jo Makosinski, and featuring mental health nurse and chairman of the Design in Mental Health Network, Joe Forster; architect Chris Shaw of Medical Architecture; Simon Kydd, head of healthcare market development at Balfour Beatty Construction; and Guy Stanton, managing director of Nora Flooring Systems.

They provided an insight into a sector that has seen much change, particularly as a result of the NHS reforms and restrictions in capital funding.

Shaw said: “In the last 20 years we have seen an enormous increase in capacity in the NHS, not just for staffing and in the overall budget, but also in terms of PFI schemes and capital investment in buildings.

“Going forward we will need to do things better for less money and we will have to concentrate on using the workforce we have in the best possible way and then build an environment that can grow and adapt and change to support this workforce.

“Yes, there is less capital, but the real challenge is in achieving structural change that supports the NHS moving forward and working out how we build environments that are comfortable and more obviously caring and which will help with the recruitment and retention of staff in a very competitive market.”

But all speakers agreed there were still opportunities within the marketplace.

Stanton said: “We have experienced a lot of success in healthcare worldwide and have analysed the UK market to see where we can achieve growth. You have to get past the issue of capital expenditure and cut through the bureacracy to get to the right people at the right time.”

Reaching the decision-makers was what the healthcare buildings forum was primarily about, with supplier and project delegate schedules matched in advance to ensure both parties maximised their time, with around 20 meetings taking place with those in charge of commissioning for healthcare estates.

Alan Garwood, director of Toprail, developers of sustainable healthcare furnishing systems, said of the event: “It was great for both sides as often you have trouble getting hold of people on the phone or by email and if you catch them on the wrong day they don’t want to know. At the forum you know you are going to get to see them and when you have a chance to talk to them face to face they see the benefit in what you are doing.”

Many claimed the format was preferable to manning stands at conferences or exhibitions.

Vince Carr of Grant Westfield, said: “We pay a lot of money to do exhibitions, often three times as much as we paid to come to the forum, and at the last exhibition I did I got nothing from it, not a jot. I came to the healthcare buildings forum and after the second meeting I was on the phone to the office saying how fantastic it was.”

His practice is now planning to send someone along to the education buildings forum. A number of suppliers and project delegates are also sending representatives to the mental health facilities forum. Both events will be held at the same venue on 17 and 18 October.

The second healthcare buildings forum will be held on 19 and 20 June 2014. For more details, email kelly@healthcaredm.co.uk.

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