News & Media

Innovation in action


Steve Jobs famously talked about putting “a ding in the universe”. In the NHS’ 70th year, the health service can be proud of the many ‘dings’ it’s made: the world’s first test tube baby; the world’s first heart, lung and liver transplant; the introduction of routine vaccinations against polio and diphtheria for children; and the advent of CT scanning, to name just a few.

And it’s not just the NHS’ clinical innovation that’s worthy of note. Creativity in healthcare building design and construction here in the UK has also played an integral part in improving patient outcomes and experiences over the last seven decades. Low-energy hospitals; intelligent use of colour, light and finishes to get away from intimidating corridors and anxiety-inducing waiting rooms; and design for patients with disabilities have all left a distinct mark on the look and feel of modern, fit-for-purpose healthcare buildings today.

But the need to continue innovation in healthcare buildings has never been stronger. With many GPs stuck in ageing, former residential premises and struggling for the space they need to deliver the ambitions of the Five Year Forward View for primary care, forward-looking design solutions are critical to extend and improve existing surgery buildings, change their layout, and to create fit for purpose new spaces which can help keep costs down by reducing energy use and embedding digital technology for patients and staff.

As the Northern Powerhouse marks its #InnovativeNorth week, primary care building design is a great example of the potential for innovation from infrastructure. Whether it’s moveable walls in Birkenhead Medical Centre to make the building ultra-flexible for different services; photovoltaic panels and heat-retaining insulation (as in West Gorton Medical Centre) to slash energy costs for the practice; or our sustainable SUDS drainage system at Moor Park Health and Leisure Centre which has significantly improved the surrounding ecology, we’re proud to be leading that charge from here in the #InnovativeNorth – creating spaces which can help nurture future ‘dings’ in the healthcare universe.

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Claire Rick is our Head of Public Affairs