Fresh hope for healthcare construction industry


Experts predict increase in opportunities for healthcare estates projects

Confidence is building in the UK healthcare construction market, despite fears the Chancellor’s upcoming Spending Review will see cuts in capital funding.

Speaking to Building Better Healthcare at this year’s Healthcare Estates conference in Manchester, Simon Kydd, head of healthcare at WSP Group, said: “There is a nervousness in the marketplace because of the Spending Review and fears that funding may be withdrawn, but there are still opportunities to be had.

“As widely reported, we have seen schemes put on hold, but there is increasing confidence that projects will happen, even if we are seeing a bit more due diligence.

“We have picked up a couple of new-build developments, but they have been few and far between this year.

“On the whole we have seen more low-cost - £5m to £50m – projects, rather than the multi-million-pound schemes of the last decade.”

Instead, he said, trusts are ‘sweating their assets’ and are looking for industry partners to help with restructuring and refurbishing existing estate.

”It’s about converting clinical space and centralising administration functions,” he added.

But, with many of the original PFI schemes now approaching the point where they are fully paid for, Kydd expects the market to pick up once again, offering much-sought-after work for architects and construction companies.

He told BBH: “In the next five to 10 years a lot of our big hospitals will be paid for so we might see a new wave of hospital developments up and down the country.

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“I also see some opportunities for maintenance and management contracts within the NHS. Only the NHS is obsessed with owning and managing its own estate; very few business do that, and I would expect that, to ensure efficiency, the NHS will look more towards this sort of approach.”