Invest in the NHS estate for COVID recovery

#STUC22 Problems of lack of space and space allocation across the NHS estate have been aggravated by short sighted decisions made during COVID, Congress heard. A Chartered Society of Physiotherapy motion explained how therapy and rehabilitation spaces have been plundered for other uses, to the detriment of patient recovery.

Congress called on NHS Boards to review their services and ensure sufficient space is allocated to enable good quality rehabilitation.

Susan Sim, supporting the motion, said problems of inadequate space are widespread across the NHS estate, much of it caused by the poor planning and design of new hospitals.  “Rest space and changing areas for staff have been disappearing,” said Susan, “in one hospital during the first wave of COVID, an Intensive Care Unit with 44 beds had just 3 showers and two tiny changing rooms for up to 66 staff on shift at one time. A prime breeding ground for staff to staff spread of the virus.”

Overcrowding on wards is another common problem. “In one board it’s now normal to have 37 patients in a 32 bedded ward reducing free floor space around beds. Every 4 bedded bay has an extra patient. But with no additional staffing,” said Susan. “We know from the C-Difficile crisis at Vale of Leven that this can seriously compromise infection control.”

To support the NHS to recover from COVID “We need fewer knee jerk decisions and more longer term investment in estates and staffing” urged Susan.