Annual report reveals efficiencies have helped maintain and improve services throughout the pandemic
Carbon-reduction interventions, an increase in capital spending on NHS estates, and the creation of additional capacity during the peak COVID-19 pandemic have led to savings of more than £53m, NHS Property Services (NHSPS) announced this week.
Smashing its initial target by £20m, the catalogue of efficiencies has helped to maintain patient services throughout the pandemic.
And the efforts have helped to mitigate inflationary pressures on the NHS, meaning NHSPS could prioritise spending on the pandemic response and keep its charges flat at a time when other providers were increasing theirs.
Over the 2020/21 period NHSPS – which owns and manages 10% of the NHS estate – increased capital investment by 20%, leading improvements to NHS sites such as GP surgeries and hospitals across England.
Overall, it delivered 110 transformational estate projects as part of its Healthy Places scheme, which will benefit over two million patients and provide 100,000sq m of improved space for the NHS.
A new social prescribing programme was also launched, creating 21 more spaces in line with the goal laid out in the NHS Long Term Plan to refer at least 900,000 people to these services by 2023/24.
Additionally, NHSPS worked with customers and local health systems to set up 250 vaccination sites – many within just days – and created additional capacity for over 1,500 beds across England between April 2020 and April 2021.
2020 was a challenging year for everyone, both within and outside of our organisation, but it has been incredible to lead an organisation that has been so committed to supporting the NHS during this difficult time
And 5,000 non-clinical frontline workers played a key role, undertaking over 7,000 additional COVID-19 deep cleans in hospitals, health centres, GP surgeries, and clinics to curb the spread of infection.
Carbon reduction played a key role in many of the improvements, helping towards the NHS’s ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
Alongside £10.6m and 8,600 tonnes of carbon saved, initiatives have included switching the entire building portfolio to 100% renewable electricity, upgrading to LED lighting, and installing smart meters in properties.
A challenging year
Martin Steele, chief executive of NHSPS, said: “2020 was a challenging year for everyone, both within and outside of our organisation, but it has been incredible to lead an organisation that has been so committed to supporting the NHS during this difficult time.
“Through collaborating with Integrated Care Systems and local health authorities we have adapted existing buildings to support the vaccine rollout and explored how community-based health and wellbeing initiatives can be delivered locally.
“We have learnt important lessons that will help us to improve the health estate and ensure it is fit for patients, both now and in the future.
“And I look forward to continuing to work closely with our customers to deliver local solutions and the best value possible for the NHS at both a local and national level.”