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The Government has announced a £3.7bn investment in new hospitals
The Government has announced a £3.7bn investment in new hospitals
Five key considerations for hospital relocations

Rachel Houghton, managing director at Business Moves Group, looks at how healthcare operators can manage relocations to new facilities

It’s no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic has shined an unrelenting light on hospitals, exposing areas that were previously latent and thrusting them into public consciousness.

Most significantly, perhaps, the pandemic has exposed the urgent need for hospitals to modernise and expand facilities, exemplified by the temporary Nightingale units that cropped up in major cities across the UK. 

With increased media attention, expanding services, and the quest to house more-innovative technologies and equipment, many hospitals are relocating to newer, more-advanced sites.

And estates managers should prepare to support this rise in relocation. 

At Business Moves Group, we’ve supported numerous hospital and healthcare clients with relocation and workplace change projects and the following five insights are some of the fundamental things we’ve learned along the way. 

Humanity must be at the forefront

In other sectors, it’s easier to find a period of downtime in which to schedule a move – whether that’s over the summer holidays when office employees are often out of the country, or when a client is less busy.

Obviously when it comes to hospitals, though, this isn’t really an option. 

I’d go as far as to say that moving hospitals is arguably the most-challenging sites of all as you’re doing so much more than moving a business – you’re moving a whole community.

It’s crucial to remember that you’ll most likely be moving real human bodies, too.

Moving teams must consider everything from safeguarding equipment and patients to infection control
Moving teams must consider everything from safeguarding equipment and patients to infection control

Some of the most-vulnerable members of our society will be with you through the location change – so make sure it’s patient safety that you place front of mind.

We train our staff so that they’re sensitive of their surroundings and comfortable dealing with stressful situations.

That could involve advice on keeping noise levels to a minimum or ensuring they are not in the way of hospital staff. 

Vital medical equipment can be required at short notice so there’s always a need to react quickly so training employees on how to be reactive and adaptable is therefore another key aspect of our planning.

Communication is everything

When it comes time to liaise with the various healthcare teams on timings and specificities, bear in mind there will likely be many unique requests.

We work closely with stakeholders to communicate our protocols and adhere to any additional requests they have. 

This can include processes such as personal audits, in which every healthcare team is consulted about their own needs.

You can then evaluate where you might need specialist movers and identify where you might need to move things especially quickly.

For example, when we relocated the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow we found that sometimes additional care is necessary to safely transport supplies and you might need a specialist who can apply this diligence.

You’ll also need to get in touch with contacts at the other end of the relocation journey.

They’ll be responsible for receiving the goods and guaranteeing that the sign-off process is watertight.

Keep things clean

We all know the importance of cleanliness and hygiene, but even before the pandemic, health and safety was of the utmost importance for hospital relocation teams.

Providing relocation teams with protective equipment and frequent sanitisation is necessary to protect patients, hospital employees, and your own teams.

With such sensitive equipment, maintaining the high hygiene standards throughout the move should be a main priority.

Streamline transportation

As with all aspects of relocation, creating a streamlined plan before you transport any items is top of the list.

A detailed itinerary of exactly what will be transported, and what will be left behind, is an essential resource that you can refer back to as you move.

It’ll also help you mark out any specific requirements, such as temperature control or extremely-fragile items.

We also map out our routes in advance and provide security if necessary.

And it’s a good idea to ensure you have enough different-sized crates, cages and skates or dollies available so that you can transport all the equipment that needs to be moved.

You’ll also likely need specialist vehicles that include electricity and air con.

While each relocation is unique, you’ll no doubt have to deal with transportation of specialist equipment during any healthcare relocation.

Oftentimes, this can be heavy equipment such as machinery.

Other times, it could be that you need to move items in awkward spaces.

Rachel Houghton
Rachel Houghton
It is important to create a plan before you move any items
It is important to create a plan before you move any items
Infection control is a crucial consideration
Infection control is a crucial consideration

When we worked with Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, we relocated X-ray files which were stored in a basement only accessible via a spiral staircase.

We also had to make sure all records stayed in chronological order.

Double down on security 

Part of a successful healthcare move relies heavily on how effective the administration side of the hospital is delivered. This includes paper and digital records which must be kept secure, confidential, and intact.

For paper records, we take an extensive audit and use GPS-tracked vehicles.

Anti-static bubble wraps for computer monitors are a great way of preventing damage caused by electrostatic charges during transport or storage.

And calling on specialist IT teams to handle digital records and work closely with internal IT staff at the hospital could save a lot of time and room for error. 

A hospital relocation is always going to be a huge task, regardless of other circumstances, but keeping these factors in mind from the outset should help set a solid foundation for a move.

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