Dr William Lumb on the New Hospitals Programme

Date posted: 8th January 2024

Dr William Lumb, Chief Clinical Information Officer at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (opens in new window) and Chief Clinical Information Officer at NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (opens in new window), and local GP, discusses the impact the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme could have on local people and NHS colleagues.

Watch our two short videos in which he describes his view of some of the challenges of the current Royal Lancaster Infirmary hospital site and the benefits and opportunities a new hospital on a new site could bring.

These interviews were recorded at the August 2023 national New Hospital Programme roadshow event in Preston.

Watch our video: Dr William Lumb on the current Royal Lancaster Infirmary site and the growing needs of our local population

Dr William Lumb:

Well, the current RLI site, the current Lancaster site, isn't fit for purpose. We know it's not fit for purpose. There's plenty of evidence as to why, we need to think differently. The other thing, I think, that wasn't really touched on: it's in the wrong place as well, because, OK, it serves the population within a mile or two of the site, but thereafter and the RLI site, you know, anywhere from Ambleside up to Sedbergh and round and from Garstang up, that's the population that it, generally speaking, serves and it's difficult to get to, so it's an accident of history. It will have started from some form of charitable institution in late Victorian times. And that's not where we need to be today. So, not fit purpose and in the wrong site. Then, if you then look at what you can do to change things. You can't change your population that you serve. That's a given. That's fine. And we have a good population to serve. But you can look at your staff, how you recruit staff in the future, the ethos of your staff. You can change your systems and processes, and you can change the built environment. So the built environment is one of the things, one of the significant things you can change about how you deliver health and social care. And so I think, you know, add all that up together and then you have a compelling reason. And also, 80% of our budget is on staff. You know as a £630 million organisation, there's a lot of money we spend on staff and surely if we can optimise the experience for those staff, if we can give them the best facilities, we're going to get more out of them. And it just seems very obvious thing to do. Focus on what you need to focus on.

The demographic shifts, you know, the volume of population that, you know, I don't think anyone particularly predicts, you know, the population of the United Kingdom has been stable at 56 million for many a year, was it not? And then suddenly it's now up at 66 and it's heading up to 70 million. I don't think anyone 30 years ago was predicting that. So, so you know, we have to respond to the need. A level of investment or, you know, getting this level of investment, this level of focus, this level of agreement requires lots of moving parts to come together and you're absolutely right, this is this is an interplanetary alignment and this is like your launch window for voyager or whatever it might be, you've got to grasp this one, you have to seize it when the politicians, when the population, when the money is available, you know when the whole thing comes together, you can't sit on your hands.

Watch our video: Dr William Lumb on the benefits and opportunities a new hospital could bring

Dr William Lumb:

The benefits are high quality care. The benefits are, you know, that's the output. We are in the business of clinical care. We're in the business of making a difference to individuals. So that's fundamentally what this is about. And if we lose sight of that, then we're missing a trick. But if we're going to improve clinical care, we need the environment to be right. We need to leverage technology where we can. We need to make it as easy as possible for people to get, you know, we need all the clever, all the really clever things. You know, the spotting things before they happen type, type of remote sensing you can have in new hospitals. You can have radar that spots whether someone's at risk of falls. There's some really, really clever stuff. You can probably retrofit, but it's easy to do it in the first place, so you've got that. So you're supporting in technology terms.You're giving your staff a really good working environment and staff, we know staff respond to good working environments. The flip side is staff struggle with poor working environments. You know, we know that, you know, lots of time and effort is put into keeping the RLI site up and running and it meets the standards, but that money would be better spent, you know, in in either, you know, the savings on running a new hospital, that and that can be reinvested. So we're going to get significant more out of our staff and...surely health facilities or the health buildings should feel healthy. I mean, how many times do you go into health premises and it doesn't feel healthy? It feels unhealthy. And I think there's something around the psychology, the psychological benefit of people feeling healthy and health spaces should feel healthy. The positive, you know, you're flipping from a negative feeling about going to hospital to hopefully, within reason, we don't want it to be a destination of choice, but we want, you know, there's a positive feeling that we can leverage.

A hospital is an anchor institute, or health and social care is clearly an anchor institution in any locality, and I think the opportunities for working with either in industry, educational or third sector partners are significant, there's a win that's bigger than the individual sum. Absolutely it will pull this process, not only the construction process, but what we can then do, there's a value add that this liberates or makes possible that we just cannot do at the moment.

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