News & Media

A 2030 health and wellbeing centre: behind the scenes

18.11.2019

How was it for you?

If you’ve watched our video on what a 2030 health and wellbeing centre of the future might look like, what was your reaction? What did you like? What didn’t you like? Can you imagine working in a building like this?  

A 2030 health and wellbeing centre: Assura plc from Assura plc on Vimeo.

It’s fair to say that we expect this design to be like the proverbial Marmite. For some of us, it’s a thought-provoking illustration of where healthcare building design will need to head over the next decade. As someone who’s spent many years helping GPs create the premises they need, I think there are so many fascinating elements to it: the connection to outside space and community activities for health, the way the building feels like a place to be rather than a place to simply wait your turn, and the way the design starts to reflect the different ways of working which GPs, primary care networks and integrated care systems are all pulling for in the NHS Long Term Plan. Perhaps the most interesting part of all is how the design will need to reflect primary care’s evolving use of technology. As remote consultation and point of care diagnostics embed over the next decade, they will change the way you and your teams use your space. There’s huge opportunity for the building design to work with technology to help you to be flexible.

For others, this may feel like a huge step. The medical centre buildings which most of us are used to don’t look anything like this. In fact, nothing quite like this exists yet at all. Some of the newer, more innovative primary care buildings have started to work towards or even adopt some of these design features, but there’s nowhere yet which wraps together every element we’ve looked at.

And as Steve Jobs once said: Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Whichever way you look at it – either as a patient using a primary care building or as a member of staff working within it, healthcare building design will need to evolve in the coming years. Granted, this specific design wouldn’t work everywhere: primary care premises must be right for the communities they serve. But there are lots of principles in this design which cut across the experiences we want all patients to have.

There are four things we’ll need to get from here to there:

  • Vision: patients, GPs and wider primary care teams, CCGs, ICS’s, local and national government and the property sector all need to think strategically about the physical infrastructure we’re going to need for the vision of care described in the Long Term Plan. The plan has good support from the NHS but can’t be delivered without the estate and the tech to underpin it
  • Investment: right across the NHS, it’s fair to say there’s growing concern about where funding to improve the estate is going to come from. Recent announcements on new capital haven’t yet given detail on a strategic, long-term investment approach for primary care estate so there’s much to watch for in the new parliament
  • Thinking across traditional boundaries: an age-old theme, but that’s what will make sure primary care building design can move beyond the status quo
  • Smart buildings: an estate which uses proptech to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint, ensure rooms are being used efficiently, help patients move around the site and to support staff in matching appointments and needs to the right part of the facility. 

By the time we get to 2030, this design will be old news. But today, we hope it at least acts as a starting point for conversations, ideas and innovation. As our report and video ask: how will primary care, tech and design combine?