Phil Woodford on the New Hospitals Programme

Date posted: 6th November 2023

Speaking in August 2023, Phil Woodford discusses the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme from his perspective as Director of Corporate Affairs at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (opens in new window). Watch our short video in which Phil describes his experience of Trust hospital buildings as both someone who works in the NHS and also as a patient.

Watch our video

Phil Woodford:

I've worked in the Trust for 15 years, but more importantly, I've been a patient in the Trust for 22 years, including an inpatient for over 5 months, so I'm fairly familiar with the facilities, and if we look at Lancaster, and it's the same for our other hospital in Barrow, it's just designed for a different era. Medicine's moved on significantly. We see much younger people with more illness now, and we call it the adjacencies, which is the technical term for everything isn't built around the patient. We have too far to travel to get patients diagnostic results and bring it back, which means there's a queue. Don't want to treat patients like tins of beans, but it's that principle, if they can't come out the other end, you can't come in with the goods and we need better flow for experience and care for patients. It's safer and it's safer for staff. They need to have the confidence that they can do their best. And if the facilities aren't right and you can't do that. It has a huge impact into the local economy, you know. 

So hospital 2.0, I think it's fantastic and the concept, but we know there's only four suppliers according to the National Audit Office that could actually have expressed an interest that could provide this service. But if we're looking at a billion and a half, which is what it's about between two hospitals locally, that could transform local economy coming out of COVID, you know. So I think as an ambition of mine is that, you know, we we stay rooted to where we are and we try and spend our money locally and help the local economy because I think we really could.


We've got some huge challenges ahead. We know in this country, 10 years after the hospital was built, you know we're not called the Fat Man of Europe for nothing, you know, by the time the hospital's built, it's forecast and we're on target for it, that we'll have more overweight people than we will people have a healthy weight in this country. Diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease. You know, they're all contributing factors. So this isn't just about a hospital for now. We've really got a futureproof and think about how we're helping people in the community as well. To be honest, however you build it, it's bricks and mortar. What's really important to people, we're a people business, be it patients or be it staff and they need the best environment to get the best out of people.


Lancaster, if you look from it from above, you can almost see generational changes so a new regime's come in or a new government. Here's 10, 20 million. There's a new bit bolted on, and you can all you can see it from above to the point where we've got 20 buildings. And really you need one because they all link in. They all provide a service to the heart of the hospital, and that comes back to what saying about the adjacencies, it's just not efficient. It costs more, much more to run our current hospital. It's like running your house, the windows are going to break at some point and need replacing and they have. But when you've got 2000 of them, it's a bit different from replacing your five or six at home, but it is no different and most costs every year keep going up. The longer you leave it, something else breaks. So it's inefficient.


There's something about learning from the past we know from about 1890, from from Florence Nightingale in notes to hospital. How a hospital ward should be designed. And we saw that through COVID. You know, even then, Florence would say you need proper space between people. You need light and ventilation. So we've known all of this, but we've moved away from it to modernise. But actually we've got to be ready for the next disaster as well. And how can we, how can we accommodate? It's been massive because we know infection spread, so although you know I don't suppose in Florence's day they imagined that they could have a whole hospital with individual rooms with en suite, but actually you do need to contain some of these infections, but it's got to be efficient for the staff going in and out of the room. But with glass walls they can have clear sight and having spent time in hospitals that have more of an open plan feeling but individual rooms, it it contains infection and gives a bit more privacy and dignity to the patient, which is really important.

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